Josh Doig left out of Hibs squad for Motherwell clash as suitors circle
It is understood that at least three Premier League and Championship clubs have upped their interest, with permanent and loan deals being discussed, and manager Jack Ross has decided that the situation could prove too much of a distraction for the 19-year-old.
The Hibs boss did the same when both Kevin Nisbet and Ryan Porteous became the subject of significant speculation during the January transfer window, choosing to leave them on the bench while the clubs and the players’ representatives continued with negotiations.
Both players remained in Leith when that window closed but there is an increasing likelihood that Doig will move on as clubs seem more willing to meet Hibs’ asking price for the fullback, who burst onto the scene at the start of last season and delivered a level of performance and consistency that earned himself individual Young Player of the Year accolades and helped the club to a third place finish in the league, as well as cup semi- finals and a final.
The club have already knocked back a £2.5million bid from Watford for the Scotland Under-19 player and Hibs’ sporting sirector Graeme Mathie has been open about his disdain for some of the approaches, labelling them “disrespectful” and “patronising”.
“If Josh Doig performs how he performed last season in English League One and got to a national final, teams would be willing to spend far more money on him,” Mathie said a recent interview.
"We finished third in the league, we’re in Europe, we got to a cup final, and these bids are really disrespectful.
"All people need to do is to walk into our sports science department and ask these people about Josh’s athletic potential, and their eyes light up. They will say that this kid is genuinely an elite-level athlete, he has the potential to be right at the top level.
"With his technical ability, athleticism, his desire, his attitude, we’ve got an amazing prospect on our hands here.
"I would love a club to come to me and say ‘we think we can turn this boy into a £50M player, here’s how we're going to develop him, we’ll give you x if he achieves this, and we’ll give you y if he does that, and within a certain number of years, we think he would be at the top level of the game’.
"That makes a conversation far easier. It becomes less of a transaction and more of a relationship. But right now, we feel some clubs have been quite patronising and more transactional, and it is hard. For the boy himself, obviously, he wants to go to a bigger club, like every other young player, but he is also happy here.”
It is understood that the make-up of the current bids would take into account Doig’s undoubted potential and would be structured in such a way that the club could expect ongoing paydays. And while no agreement has been reached and Doig made it clear that he would be willing to play at Fir Park today, the upsurge in interest led manager Ross to remove him from the squad.