Christian Doidge has point to prove as Hibs striker insists he's happy at Easter Road
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The Welshman had a season to forget last term as Covid-19 and injuries limited his gametime but hit his third treble for the Easter Road side in Lee Johnson’s first match in charge of the club and admitted it was nice to show the new manager what he can do.
"It’s been a really good pre-season so far and it was great to get a start. We played some really good attacking stuff in that first half and I love being in the box and being a nuisance,” he said afterwards.
"It’s just nice to be fully fit. I’ve not even missed a training session, I’m really enjoying it."
Doidge bundled in Elias Melkersen’s deflected cross on 16 minutes, dinked Jake Doyle-Hayes’ pass over Clyde ‘keeper Neil Parry on 28 minutes, and fired Chris Cadden’s pass home 60 seconds later, with Melkersen adding a goal of his own between Doidge’s first and second.
"When a new manager comes in you’ve got to try and impress him. He knows I’ve been here a few years now and if you look at my last season it wasn’t great, was it? So it’s nice to be fit and available, hopefully throughout the year and it was nice to show him that I’m a goal threat.
“If he watched any games from last season he wouldn’t have seen much of me. I’ve worked hard this pre-season after a long time off with not much football. It’s gone well for me so far and hopefully that continues.”
Doidge was linked with a move to Dundee United earlier in the summer while teams in England were also reportedly monitoring his situation. The 29-year-old insists he wasn’t aware of any transfer rumours.
“I’m not aware of any speculation or anything. I keep myself to myself and concentrate on my job for Hibs.
"I’m really happy here, I love playing for this football club; I’ve got two years left on my contract so I’m not going to go anywhere unless I really want to go there.
"I feel I’ve got something to show, and something to prove, and I am going to continue to do that until someone tells me anything different.”
The former Forest Green Rovers frontman had a candid chat with the new manager at the start of pre-season.
"He told me where he saw my role. We had a really good, honest conversation and it was nice to get some clarity,” Doidge explained.
“Now I’ve played the first game of the season and hopefully that tells me I will be playing in the first league game of the season. But I have to keep working hard and see what happens."
The pair haven’t had an in-depth talk since but the forward insists he is fully focused on getting back to his best.
"I haven’t spoken to him any further, I’m just concentrating on myself; getting fit, and being in the best possible condition for this football club.
“I’ve started a game of football for the first time in a long time and I’ve scored a hat-trick so I’m delighted.
“It was a typical Christian hat-trick! It was a bit scruffy. The second one was probably the best of the three but I’ve made a living out of scoring scrappy goals.
"Hopefully there are many more to come.
“With the first one there was a deflection and I didn’t want to go with my foot because it was spinning so I thought I’d go with the biggest object on my body and chest it in. I thought that was quite sensible!”
Doidge has his personal ambitions but he also wants the club to have a better campaign after the disappointment and upheaval last season.
"We should be looking to try to get into the top four and try to get into the finals of cup competitions, and get into Europe,” he stated.
"We were extremely frustrated with the outcome of last season but with the size of Hibs and the work that’s going on behind the scenes we need to be fighting for Europe.
“I’m really enjoying it. The way the manager wants to play is perfect for attacking players. I just want to get out there and show what I can do.”
Doidge was on the cusp of a call-up to the Wales international squad before the Covid-19 pandemic halted football and contracting the virus himself and two injuries have limited his chances of forcing his way back into the national team plans.
But he insisted he hasn’t given up on his dream.
"It’s always a goal. You’re not going to see me retire any time soon! It’s an aim for me but I’m going to concentrate on my football at Hibs. If I score a lot of goals for Hibs then maybe I’ll get a bit of notice, but we will have to see.”
Doidge also paid tribute to young team-mate Josh Doig, who is set to conclude a transfer to Serie A side Hellas Verona this week.
“I’m delighted for Josh. He is such a good lad and improved so much in the last few seasons. He deserves the move,” Doidge added.
"He deserves the opportunity to play at a higher level. It’s also a great bit of business for the football club and it’s a chance to play in Italy for Josh. It will be great for him and his family. He’s a great kid and I’m delighted for him.”