Christian Doidge keen to shoot down Rangers after Hibs striker wins Player of the Month prize
Striker targeting Steven Gerrard's team after scooping monthly award
Hibs striker Christian Doidge is aiming to celebrate being named the Ladbrokes Premiership’s player of the month for November by shooting down Rangers in Friday night’s televised clash at Easter Road.
A £350,000 summer signing from Forest Green Rovers, the Welshman endured an eight-game drought as he struggled to get his first league goal – but he broke his duck in style with a hat-trick as the Easter Road outfit shattered a ten-match winless run by hammering St Johnstone 4-1 on November 9.
Doidge followed that up by scoring in his next four matches, helping lift the Capital club into the top half of the league with, he insisted, all eyes now on clinching a place in next season’s Europa League.
Shrugging aside the disappointment of losing to Celtic at the weekend, Doidge believes home advantage can help Jack Ross’ players enjoy a better result against the other half of the Old Firm – although he and his team-mates know it will be tough against a Rangers side currently neck-and-neck with their arch-rivals at the top of the table and boasting a 6-1 win against Hibs, then under the charge of Paul Heckingbottom, earlier in the season.
The 27-year-old hitman, who only had two Betfred Cup goals to his name by the time Heckingbottom was sacked, conceded the Glasgow clubs are the benchmark as far as Scottish football is concerned, saying: “Celtic and Rangers are both top sides and you can see what they’re doing in Europe with both of the qualifying for the knockout phase – that shows how good they are.
“They’ve got some fantastic players and it’s hard to play against them. We know it would be a massive scalp if you beat either of them. We drew with Celtic at Easter Road earlier in the season so we’ve shown it’s a hard place for other teams to get a result at.
“We’re hopeful we can do something against Rangers too. We’re in the top six so first and foremost we want to stay there and then get as high as we can and then try to get in the mix for a Europa League slot.”
Doidge admitted his Hibs career hadn’t got off to the best of starts but now the
signing from Forest Green Rovers hopes he can replicate his heroics throughout November during the rest of the season.
“It was a really disappointing time when Paul Heckingbottom left,” he said. “He was the man that had brought me to the club. I got on really well with him and I really wanted to do well for him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
Heckingbottom had persisted in playing Doidge, primarily, and Flo Kamberi as lone strikers, interim boss Eddie May tweaking that formation to play both frontmen at McDiarmid Park to devastating effect, a system which new head coach Ross has continued to deploy.
Doidge said: “When Eddie took over, I think we all went out against St Johnstone, tried to be free-flowing and it seemed to work. It was a chance for me and Flo to play together and it seemed to work.
“To come to a place like Hibs as the No.9 there was pressure on me to hit the ground running but obviously I didn’t make the start I wanted. I just had to work hard and get into the positions where I had scored goals in my career before.
“Luckily I got that first one against St Johnstone and I went on to score six in the month. That happens to a centre forward at times, it’s like buses, none for ages and then they all come at once. I’ve had runs like that throughout my career. I’ve got good team-mates around me and I knew the chances would come so I had to keep believing.”
And Doidge, capped by Wales at basketball, hopes his exploits in Edinburgh can catch the eye of Welsh football boss Ryan Giggs ahead of next summer’s European Championships.
He said: “The prospect of playing for Wales was one of the reasons for moving up here. I knew I was coming to a better league and playing against better players.
“So with the boys qualifying for the Euros, it would be a dream of mine to play for my country.”