Christian Doidge opens up on Hibs injury hell, Rangers semi-final, and THAT champagne social media post

Covid-19, an Achilles injury, illness, red cards… it’s safe to say Christian Doidge has had better starts to a football season.

By Patrick McPartlin
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 6:00 am
Helping Hibs to Premier Sports Cup glory would be a nice way to end more than three months of personal disappointment for Christian Doidge
Helping Hibs to Premier Sports Cup glory would be a nice way to end more than three months of personal disappointment for Christian Doidge

The Welshman has been a big miss in a Hibs attack that has been a bit toothless in recent weeks but the 29-year-old is fully focused on playing a part in Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup final.

Doidge played in the disappointing Scottish Cup final defeat by St Johnstone in May and his 15 minutes at the tail-end of the 3-1 semi-final victory over Rangers last month has whetted his appetite for more Hampden success.

“It’s been a nightmare,” he admitted, reflecting on the first half of the campaign. “To get some minutes against Dundee was really good for me.

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“I think I ended up with about 70 minutes, which is good. I started to feel a bit sharper. That’s good for me going into the cup final.

"Hopefully I can contribute to the team on Sunday but yeah, it has obviously been a disaster of a season so far.”

The final has come at the right time for the former Forest Green Rovers favourite and the congested fixture list has probably aided his comeback.

“I was bedbound for a while in the summer with Covid, then obviously came back and got the injury. A few weeks ago I was sick for four days and that wasn’t ideal as I was planning on getting minutes in a bounce game for the games coming up.

“And then being sent off at Ross County didn’t help my case at all!"

But the striker is clear of illness, clear of injury, suspension-free, and the fittest he’s been since August.

"Coming back from injury my carrot was getting back for the semi-final. I played 15 minutes at the end of that and contributed and that was a really good feeling,” he recalled.

“The plan originally wasn’t to get back for that so to play that day was good, and obviously getting myself in a good fitness level for the final has been good for me.”

Stand-in boss David Gray will be glad to have Doidge’s services for Sunday’s showdown with Celtic as he plots a stunning trophy win having sealed, at long last, Scottish Cup glory for the Easter Road side back in 2016 and the Newport-born frontman spoke in glowing terms about the interim manager’s standing at the club.

"Dave has so much respect around the club. I have played with him and he’s been a coach here for nearly a year now,” Doidge continued.

“He’s been brilliant for the lads. Everyone was disappointed with what happened with Jack Ross but we have got to keep positive and keep going forward.

“Dave is going to lead us out at the weekend and all the lads are happy with that. He has done fantastic things for Hibs and it will be a great occasion for him to be on the sideline.”

Gray’s goal in May 2016 features heavily in the video shown to prospective Hibs signings and Doidge is desperate to help make more history for the club.

“One of the main things when you’re talking to the club about signing is they show you the video of 2016. That’s something you really want to be a part of in your career.

“You work hard to strive for those kind of moments and you never know, at the weekend we could get that opportunity.”

Doidge insists Hibs have to believe they can win against Celtic if they are to come out on top at the weekend.

“Going into the Rangers game we really believed we’d win it. It’s the same with Celtic. It’s going to be really hard, we know we’re going to be under a lot of pressure.

“But we’ve got players who can win games, we saw it that day with Martin Boyle. Everything seemed to go for us, especially in that first half.

“Martin getting a hat-trick before half time, that doesn’t happen very often. When he’s on it he’s electric, and hopefully we will have him like that on Sunday.

“We’ve had such a busy schedule, and with the manager leaving and stuff we haven’t really had time to think about the final.

“I think that’s a good thing. We’ve had to concentrate on the league. Our performances haven’t been where we would like them to be, the results definitely haven’t.

"But all our thoughts are now on Sunday, we’re going to put a lot of detail into it.”

In the event of a Hibs win, Doidge reckons any celebrations will have to be low-key, with a must-win league game against Aberdeen three days later. So there is unlikely to be a repeat of the video showing the striker popping open a bottle of champagne that surfaced in the aftermath of the Scottish Cup in May…

“That was tough. It wasn’t ideal and I can understand why the fans were extremely frustrated," he continued.

“I had a lot of family and friends in my house that day and I hadn’t seen them in a very long time.

“It was more a celebration of being with them after nearly a year.

“It wasn’t ideal it going online and I can see why the fans were frustrated with that.

“If I could do it all over again, I definitely wouldn’t do that.”

So no celebrations at all?

“If we win, they might let us have a few drinks. We need to get the league campaign back up and running.

"We’ll have a new manager by then as well, so we’ll have to see what he thinks but whoever comes in will have a great group of lads who are willing to work hard.”

Christian Doidge was speaking at a Premier Sports Cup event. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £12.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.

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