'He’s probably a bit different to what I thought' - Jack Ross reveals his thoughts on Hibs' Christian Doidge
New head coach has been impressed by in-form striker
Jack Ross belives there’s more to Christian Doidge than catches the eye, claiming the Hibs striker is just as effective at either end of the pitch.
After a miserable start to his Easter Road career, Doidge has set off on a scoring streak – five goals in three matches – to help lift the Capital club into the top half of the Premiership table.
But while his goals have been grabbing all the headlines, Ross revealed he’s also enjoyed the part the Welshman has played inside his own penalty area as Hibs found themselves under pressure as they battled to hold on for the three points against both Motherwell and St Mirren.
“We defended our box very well in both games from open play and set pieces,” said the Hibs head coach. “And Christian has been terrific doing that.
“We’ve used him in a position to try to get the best from him in that regard and he is an asset. It’s significant when you have a forward player able to help defend. We have some good height in our team, but equally we have defended the box well and aggressively.”
However, as happy as he is to see Doidge help his team-mates dig in, Ross admitted he’s been impressed by what he’s seen from the former Forest Green Rovers hitman who has clearly benefited by having Florian Kamberi alongside him rather than being asked as he was by former boss Paul Heckingbottom to forage alone up front.
It was Doidge’s goals for the English League Two side which first put him on the radar of Ross as manager of Sunderland, but having now seen him at first hand, he’s been delighted to have him in his squad.
He said: “You are aware of any player who is scoring prolifically in any of the three leagues outside the Premiership, they are flagged up. I was aware of him and was interested to see how he would do when I saw he was coming here in the summer.
“I have been impressed by him. He’s probably a bit different to what I thought working with him – in a good way. You don’t get a proper feel for players until you work with them and I had not seen him up close, only on footage.
“I think he is more mobile than I anticipated and there’s more to his game than people imagine. He’s a handful, when you have the right players alongside him he is effective and in my two games he has shown that.”
Ross believes Doidge’s past scoring record suggests that now he’s broken his drought in a green and white shirt he’ll continue to do so.
He said: “I think it’s the same for most strikers at all levels of the game. I don’t think you can under-estimate how players feel about themselves and it’s sometimes amazing how they get that flow of scoring and at the moment that’s the case for him.
“His record statistically shows that should be the case and will be the case, that’s encouraging. Probably the best example is to look back at (Robert) Lewandowski before he went to Dortmund and why they recruited him – his record in the lower leagues in Poland and up to the top league.
“He always scores goals, and the fact Christian is scoring goals gives me great encouragement he’ll continue to do that.”
Doidge has backed up his team-mates’ assertion that one goal was all he needed to start scoring on a regular basis and, insisted Ross, that claim was based on the solid evidence of what they’d been seeing in training each day.
Pointing out that Doidge had been getting into good positions in matches even if chances were scorned – those four one-on-one openings he passed up against Aberdeen will no doubt still send a shiver down his spine – he said: “That’s a key element to it. The toughest part is putting the ball into the net but the bit before that is almost as tough, putting yourself in the right position to get opportunities.
“There is a knack to it, a feel for it, and I think he has shown that consistently. Now he is doing the hardest part.”