Hibs striker Christian Doidge opens up on Covid-19 struggles as he returns to action
As one of three forwards to hit double figures in front of goal for Hibs last season, there would have been consternation from supporters when Christian Doidge was absent from the start of pre-season training.
After a testing start to his Easter Road career the Welsh striker has become a key player in green and white; for his all-round play as well as his goals, but there was no one more glad to be back on the pitch than the 28-year-old himself.
“It was nice to get 25 minutes – originally I was only going to get fifteen but with the way the game was going, the gaffer asked me if I’d be alright [playing for longer] and on I went.
"Picked a lovely day for it as well,” he said after his substitute appearance against Raith Rovers on Friday night.
“Obviously it was disappointing to be on the sidelines for a while but it’s great to be back with the boys.
"It’s difficult because I’m a lot further behind than the rest of them; they're all really fit and before coming on I’d only had two training sessions with the squad.
"I’ve done extra work with the medical team and they felt I was in a good position to play on Friday and I think deep down I just wanted to get some minutes in case I’m needed on Thursday night in Europe.”
A test carried out at the club’s training centre when the players returned after their summer break was the first indication that something wasn’t quite right.
"Before I went in for the first day of pre-season training I’d had a bit of a restless night’s sleep but I thought that was just normal nerves ahead of all the running.
"My first test was inconclusive so I did a PCR test which came back positive. I got a few symptoms and each day I was getting worse.
"You never think it’s going to happen to you, but it hit me hard. I was bedbound for seven or eight days and really struggled.
"I got an exercise bike dropped off at my house and tried to do a bit but I just relapsed, and the medical team told me not to do anything for two and a half weeks.”
Despite a few cheeky remarks from his team-mates about getting out of pre-seaon, Doidge paid tribute to his supportive colleagues.
"It was really hard seeing the social media team posting stuff when the team was down in Manchester but I’m just really happy to be out the other side of it now and back in with the lads. They were all texting me and ringing me when I was away from the team and telling me how things were going. I would have given anything to have been training with them.”
Should he get the all-clear to feature on Thursday, Doidge could make his first European appearance.
"I’ve never played in Europe before but the lads that have all say what a great experience it is.
"It’s going to be disappointing not to play as much as I might if I was fully fit but I can’t imagine many players get the chance during their career to play in Europe so it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”