Have Hibs found the long-term replacement for Lewis Stevenson - or Paul Hanlon?

Josh Doig impressed for Hibs in the Reserve Cup fixture with Hearts this week. Could he be the long-term replacement for Lewis Stevenson?

By Joel Sked
Saturday, 26th October 2019, 10:23 am
Updated Saturday, 26th October 2019, 11:38 am
Josh Doig impressed for Hibs' development squad during the week. Picture: SNS
Josh Doig impressed for Hibs' development squad during the week. Picture: SNS

Believe it or not. There will come a time when Lewis Stevenson is no longer Hibernian Football Club’s left-back.

It is a future which is hard to comprehend. After more than 450 games, a League Cup, a Scottish Cup and countless left-backs competing for his position seen off, there will be a day in the not too distant future when the 31-year-old is no longer a staple of the Easter Road side's starting XI..

The club will eventually be required to find a left-back from somewhere.

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The defender was involved in pre-season. Picture: SNS

However, there is good news Hibs fans, there may be one at the club already.

In the SPFL Reserve Cup group stage draw with Hearts on Tuesday (6-5 loss on penalties for a bonus point) on Boroughmuir Rugby's Meggetland pitch, Lee Makel's development squad were tellingly superior to their Edinburgh counterparts. The Easter Road men should have won comfortably.

A number of chances in either half by a variety of players - Oli Shaw, Fraser Murray, Adam Jackson, Jamie Gullan amongst others - were passed up either side of the interval.

Somehow, entering stoppage time, Hearts still led through an early Lewis Moore strike. That was until Josh Doig advanced from left-back. The 17-year-old was aggressive in his tackling, winning battles with opponents before feeding Gullan to cross. The ball was not dealt with by goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal, allowing Shaw to head in the equaliser from on the line.

The point wouldn’t have arrived if it wasn’t for the tenacity of Doig. It was typical of his performance against the team in which Hibs recruited him from in June.

For the most part, the first half was a largely tame affair. A mixture of the usual lack of intensity you find in first-team football and a terrible pitch, a bone of contention for Makel who felt the game should not have been played on a rugby pitch.

Yet, Hibs were the more controlling team, as they were throughout, responding well to going behind early on through Moore's goal. They were most productive down the their left via the Doig-Gullan combination.

One of the best moves of the game saw the latter play a cute reverse pass for the former, rampaging forward on the overlap. His fierce shot was beaten away by Zlamal.

With little sting to take out of the game, the interval seemed to have the reverse effect with the second half much more feisty, much more aggressive and much more entertaining.

Hearts skipper Chris Hamilton was at his wholehearted best and so to was Doig, who committed himself to a couple of tasty challenges.

The 17-year-old was the second youngest on the pitch, behind Hearts' precocious midfielder Connor Smith. The youthful exuberance may have showed in the way in which he played - which was a positive - but physically he handled himself with ease.

Fans may be familiar with the defender, having come off the bench in the pre-season clash with Newcastle United, while he was an unused sub against Alloa in the Betfred Cup.

He is quick and powerful, aggressive and strong. He is everything you want in a modern day full-back - an eagerness to contribute further up the pitch but with an equal determination to defend. Such attributes helped him into the Scotland U18 squad for a tournament last month.

Watching him it was hard not to be impressed and have the belief that Hibs may just be covered at left-back.

Yet, speaking to Makel after the match, the former Hearts and Livingston midfielder suggested that his future may lie at centre-back - a position he is not unfamiliar with.

“Josh done well," the Hibs coach said. "One or two us have been talking. I think left centre-half might be his preferred position when he starts to get a bit more stature about himself.

"He’s got a good left foot, he can come in (field), step in, makes things happen, tackle and head.”

With current stalwart Paul Hanlon set to reach 400 games for the club before he turns 30, he too may soon have an anxious glance over his shoulder at a player wasting no time in making a name for himself around Hibs Training Centre and Easter Road.