Josh Doig: 'Without meaning to sound creepy, he looks like Ronaldo' - why Hibs expect youngster to flourish in Verona
Hibs veteran Lewis Stevenson has been around long enough to spot a good player and he is not surprised in the slightest that Josh Doig is on the cusp of completing a move to Italy with Hellas Verona.
Barring any late hitches, Doig will move to Serie A for a reported fee of £3million. The 20-year-old is regarded as one of the country’s brightest prospects at left-back and despite sustained interest south of the border for the past year, Verona have come to the table with an offer club and player can’t refuse.
Among his achievements in a rapid two-year rise at Easter Road, Doig managed to oust Stevenson from the regular left-back slot. His pace, power, physique and athleticism caught the eye of many suitors. Stevenson believes he will go on to even better things.
“I don't think I have seen a better natural athlete than him and that stands him in good stead,” Stevenson, now 34, said of Doig. “I don't think he got the credit he deserved last season when I thought he had a better all-round season than the one before. He is a great boy and someone I would love to see go on and do well. I think we have all been saying that although he has got this move, we genuinely feel he could go from there and kick on again.
“He has potential to go to the top level. He is 6ft 3in, fast, strong. Even just looking at him with his top off, without meaning to sound creepy, he looks like Ronaldo, with that kind of physique. He just is an athlete and that is half the battle nowadays.
"He is still the same guy he was when he first came in at 16/17 and trained with us a few times. I think his first game was Carlisle and I was injured and he came on and straight away it was clear he had something and he kicked on from there. So maybe it is me that has got him there! Maybe he will give me a percentage. Nah, he is a top guy and I can't praise him any more.”
Doig’s imminent Hibs departure leaves a void at left-back, with Demetri Mitchell still recovering from injury. “Here was me thinking I was a midfielder after the way last season finished!” quipped Stevenson. “Now I'm back to left-back. But Demi is nearly back and I’m sure they will sign someone else so I will just enjoy the games when I’m playing.”
Hibs are close to landing Marijan Cabraja on a three-year deal from Dinamo Zagreb, so Stevenson’s premonition about a new arrival appears on the money. However, he is set to start on Tuesday night for Hibs’ second match of the Premier Sports Cup campaign away at Falkirk, fresh from defeating Clyde 5-0 on Saturday, as he looks to stay in the thoughts of new manager Lee Johnson.
"It is still early doors,” Stevenson replied on life under Johnson, the latest in a long line of managers he has played under. “The gaffer will give us pointers, things he wants us to do, and it is up to us to try to implement them. Everyone is enjoying it and it is exciting for everyone to watch. Hopefully, we can continue that.”