Josh Doig eager to keep learning from Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney with Hibs defender relishing new attacking role

Josh Doig insists he will keep working hard in a bid to emulate fellow Scottish left-backs Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney.

By Patrick McPartlin
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 6:30 am

The Scotland international duo are consistently high performers for Liverpool and Arsenal respectively in the English Premier League and the Hibs defender has long been a student of their matches in a bid to better his own displays.

With new Easter Road boss Shaun Maloney giving Doig licence to get forward as he tries to implement his own brand of football in the Capital, the 19-year-old is only too happy to bomb down the flanks and join the attack.

“The gaffer's given me freedom to get forward more and get more crosses into the box. I'm still learning and I'm still young, so the crosses could be better at times, but I'm still working hard with Valerio [Zuddas] and Gary [Caldwell] at the training ground, helping me every day with my first-touch delivery because it's a massive thing as a full-back these days,” he said after the 1-0 Scottish Cup fourth-round victory over Cove Rangers.

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Josh Doig is enjoying a new lease of life under Shaun Maloney

“You look at Robbo, Tierney... they're so good with deliveries into the box and it's something I want to implement more in my game.”

Doig set up striker Kevin Nisbet for the winning goal in extra time on Thursday night as Hibs laboured to victory against the League One leaders, and the teenager admitted there are things the Easter Road side can improve on.

“The gaffer said before the game that Cove Rangers were unbeaten in 15 and top of their league so he spoke a lot about respecting them as a team and what they could do with some proper quality players in there,” Doig explained.

“I'm proud of the team, we dug in there and got the goal in the end. We're delighted, but there's definitely stuff to work on still.”

Doig is keen to keep learning and taking inspiration from Tierney and Robertson

There were just eight minutes of extra time remaining when the teenager picked out Nisbet, who turned the ball past Cove ‘keeper Kyle Gourlay from close range. Was the spectre of penalties looming large before the ball hit the net?

"There's always that doubt but you have to push that away, you always have to have belief. I think the boys definitely dug in.

“It's only the gaffer's second game in charge at Easter Road and he's still implementing things, but all the boys have the belief in him that as the games go on, we'll start to do it more and get the results quicker and be more clinical.”

It was perhaps appropriate that Nisbet notched the all-important goal after his glaring miss in the opening stages of Monday night’s 2-0 Scottish Premiership defeat by Celtic and subsequent reaction from fans on social media but Doig insists the 24-year-old’s quality speaks for itself.

Doig came close to the opener in the first half against Cove Rangers

"Having strikers like Christian Doidge and Kevin means that I can trust them, if I put a ball in, to always get on the end of it. The ball I put in [for the winner], my legs were kind of going at the end, cramping up, so it wasn't the best delivery ever but Nizzy got on the end of it because he is a top-class striker, an international striker.

“I reap the rewards because he is that good with his movement, and he is that clinical, that it puts an assist against my name as well. I've got massive trust in him to put those chances away.”

Doig's new attacking remit nearly bore fruit on Thursday night. The youngster came close to opening the scoring at the end of the first half against Cove with a superbly-struck volley from a Chris Cadden cross, and he wasn’t too far away with an effort in the first period of extra time that he poked just wide of the post.

Being tasked with a different role has been a dream come true for the Scotland Under-21 defender.

Doig celebrates with Kevin Nisbet after the pair combined for the winner against Cove

"I love getting forward, and I especially enjoy it with Lewis Stevenson behind me because he's the most trustworthy guy ever. I'm not too scared to lose the ball because I know he's there and always feeding me the ball as well.

“I've got a great relationship with him and it's a joy to play with a living legend at the club and he gives me a bit more freedom to go forward because he's a bit more defensive.”

The Cove clash was the first of the post-Martin Boyle era at Easter Road and Doig – no stranger to transfer interest himself – believes the winger will be hard to replace.

"It's definitely a big loss; he's been so good for us, but you look at the signings we've made – top quality boys – and you trust everyone in the team.

“If you're at Hibs you're good enough to be here and there's a reason you're here. I'm sure the gaffer has trust in all the boys to go and score goals for us.

"We couldn’t use his situation as an excuse for anything on Thursday night. He was still here in Hibs colours and being chirpy around the ground… I was definitely aware of his presence anyway!”

Doig had his own time out of the team in the summer, when a host of English Premier League clubs and some teams from abroad were reportedly circling following an impressive debut season for the Hibs academy graduate.

"I probably didn't deal as well as I could have with the transfer interest in me in the summer, when there were all these big names around. It kind of threw me off at the start of the season,” Doig admitted.

“Obviously Martin's probably more mature than me and could deal with it a bit better.

“It's a hard thing when you see all these rumours flying around and it definitely took me back a bit and took me a while to get my head straight.”

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