Hibs defender Josh Doig speaks on award nominations, being the best he can, and managerial upheaval
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The affable defender speaks with all the experience of a much older player as he discusses his own progress, the managerial turmoil at the club in the past six months, and speculation around a new manager in the hotseat. There’s also the small matter of another nomination for PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year.
Not that he’s any more used to all the attention, you understand.
“It’s still quite a big thing for me and my family,” he smiles, almost bashfully.
"It is definitely a confidence-booster to be named alongside some of the players who are in there. It is an honour for me and something I will remember for the rest of my life. Being nominated is a massive thing.”
If there has been extra pressure on Doig this season after an impressive break-out season, he hasn’t felt it.
“It’s more about just focusing on yourself. People will always say things about any young player coming through and place expectations on them but, for any young player, it is better to just stay away from those expectations and focusing on your own game. You are only as good as you make yourself and that’s down to the extra work you do after training, and giving 100 per cent during training or in the gym. It is everything you do to make yourself as good as you can.”
It hasn’t been an easy season for Hibs as a team but individual recognition is something the Scotland Under-21 internationalist appreciates.
A booster during a tough season
"You are always looking for those little personal things. We know it hasn’t been the best of seasons for the team as a whole but football is full of ups and downs and it is a cut-throat business.
"But for myself, this has been a bit of a booster. We now have four games left and need to go into them in a positive manner and try to take the three points in every game.”
Doig has – technically – played under four managers since joining Hibs. Paul Heckingbottom gave him a late run-out in a pre-season friendly against Newcastle United in the summer of 2019; he was promoted to the first team by Jack Ross in 2020, and he has featured under him and successor Shaun Maloney as well as twice-interim boss David Gray.
He would have learned a lot over the past two seasons regardless but has been taking the positives out of managerial upheaval at Easter Road.
"It was a whole new system that [Shaun Maloney] wanted to bring in and I really enjoyed it. I felt I was more of a left centre-half under him but I really enjoyed it. It was sad to see him go. I am 100 per cent a better player now though.”
Learning from mistakes and doing extra
This season has been Doig’s first in front of fans but he has very much taken it in his stride. Learning from mistakes? Completed it, mate.
"I try not to get too down on errors or after bad games. Even the best players in the world are going to have bad games, but I think it is how you react and respond to them that makes the difference.
"If you do make a mistake it is just a case of getting on the ball again and doing the right things. If you miss a tackle you can't go into your shell. It’s about having that confidence and broadening your shoulders to get back on the ball again. I think I am bringing that maturity to my game. I have spoken to Dave [Gray] about that as well and he says that mistakes are nothing, it’s what you do after them.”
Doig is also doing extra on the training ground and if he isn’t staying behind on the East Mains pitches, you’ll find him in the gym pumping iron in a bid to better himself.
“If there are mid-week games you can't be out there every second after training. At the end of the day you'd probably end up hindering yourself.
“But on Mondays and Tuesdays, when you've still got a bit to go until the Saturday game, that's when you can do a bit extra. It doesn't have to be 100 per cent effort, it's just wee things you pick up on.
“If I'm playing left-wingback it's crossing, if I'm left centre-half it's tackling and heading, so it's all sorts of things that you need to look at. But, I think I'll keep doing it.
"All my life I've wanted to do extra in the gym because I'm still quite skinny and I always need to build myself up.”
Blocking out the speculation
So; four managers in just under three years, to say nothing of influential figures like Eddie May who worked with him in the Academy. Doig knows only too well what it’s like trying to play football amid intense speculation having been linked with a string of clubs last summer, and insists it’s important to block out the noise – no matter how exciting it might be.
"There's always going to be chat – I experienced that myself at the start of the season – and there's always going to be speculation, but I think it's just about staying away from that,” he explained.
"There are a lot of things that can excite you but it's always speculation. Whatever will be, will be. Whoever the club want, they'll take.
"As players we don't have much say in it, so we tend to stay away from it.
“We've got four games now to push forward and whatever happens in the summer happens.”