Lee Johnson hails Josh Doig as defender nears Verona switch - and Hibs boss suggests unusual replacement

Hibs boss Lee Johnson has confirmed that Josh Doig’s transfer to Serie A side Hellas Verona is close, with the left-back not included in the matchday squad for the 5-0 Premier Sports Cup victory over Clyde.
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The Evening News revealed on Friday that the Easter Road side had accepted a bid in excess of £3 million plus add-ons for the Scotland Under-21 internationalist, with the player expected to fly out to Italy to discuss personal terms.

Johnson confirmed after the game that the 20-year-old had been left out of his plans as a precaution.

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"It was probably too big a risk with the transfer close, although I couldn't tell you how many steps along the ladder it is,” he explained.

"We've accepted a bid and the player has to go across to Italy and talk about personal terms.

"It could easily fall down and if it does, we'll welcome him back with open arms but if not, we need to make sure that we utilise any funds available and congratulate him on a fantastic move.”

Johnson believes the Italian game will be good for Doig, who he praised as a ‘good student’, adding: "I think he's a good young player. He's got a lot to work on in his game but who hasn't at that age? Physically, he's a real powerhouse and that's what stands out more than anything.

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"The Italian game is very defensive, very organised, a lot of drilling and I think that's the sort of thing that could take him to another level, in a really good league."

Josh Doig's move to Verona is edging closerJosh Doig's move to Verona is edging closer
Josh Doig's move to Verona is edging closer

Admitting that Hibs would always have to face the prospect of losing their talented youngsters, Johnson continued: “We have to make sure that if Josh does go, then we replace him with a very good player.

"It's not easy finding left-backs but we've got three or four names.

"When I was at Sunderland we started the season without any full-backs so we played two central midfielders there and it worked really well.

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"I was even considering playing Joe Newell there in a couple of games just to have a look because he's another good player who you want to try and have in your starting XI and when you've got 16, 17 players who you want to start, it means they're doing something right."

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