Christian Doidge responds to uncertainty over Hibs future amid impressive start to campaign
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However, an Achilles injury early into the 2021/22 season seemed to sap the 30-year-old of his powers. Though he returned before the turn of the year, he struggled to replicate his prior performances and goals dried up.
Last summer, Lee Johnson arrived and made no secret of discussions between the pair as to his long-term future. Doidge wanted to remain at Hibs, but eventually the decision was made to send him out on a temporary basis, as he joined Kilmarnock for almost the entire length of the campaign.
Doidge’s early performances at Rugby Park were much in the same mould as those earlier in 2022, but he really came on to a game towards the end of the campaign, playing a significant role in Killie remaining in the top flight. He’s now continued that form into this campaign, scoring in consecutive games and easily being Hibs’ best player in the 3-2 loss to St Mirren on Sunday.
"I do,” he answered when asked if he expects to remain at Hibs. “I’ve really enjoyed being back. I love playing for this football club. I’ve obviously started the first league game and played 45 minutes and 90 minutes in Europe, so I don’t think there’s any reason to leave, to be honest.
"I wouldn’t say it was about proving my worth to the manager. I’ve still got plenty to do. Obviously I want to prove a lot of people wrong every single day I’m training or playing. It’s not really about that. I’m just trying to play well and help Hibs to be as good as they can be.
"Yeah [I was pleased with my performance]. Obviously I want to get the team back in the game. Alfie [Adam Le Fondre] has come on and made an impact straight away. Then Elie [Youan] has gone on one of his runs and managed to find me. I was really happy in that moment, to get the equaliser. It felt like we were on top and looked like only one team was going to win that game.
"I’ve been extremely streaky in my career in terms of goalscoring. So hopefully this is the start of a run where I can help Hibs win games.”
Doidge and his team-mates will now turn their attention to Thursday evening and the first leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round match against Swiss side Luzern at Easter Road. One thing is for certain, they need to begin the game better than they did against St Mirren, where they quickly found themselves in a 2-0 deficit.
"They’re going to be a good side,” Doidge said. “We’re extremely frustrated with the start against St Mirren, especially as everyone is telling us to make sure we get off to a good start. It’s really hard to take.
"We’ve got the opportunity in going to Switzerland next week. I’m really looking forward to it. You don’t get to play in Europe very often so you have to embrace it.”