What are the transfer options for Hibs as club seek to replicate Christian Doidge impact?
Hibs have yet to replace the loss of Christian Doidge and question continue to be asked by supporters regarding a perceived lack of quality depth in the squad.
The experienced striker went down in August and the effects are still being felt. Doidge is so good at linking play between midfield and attack, while his presence helps bring out the best in last season’s top goalscorer Kevin Nisbet.
James Scott was brought in on loan from Hull City, but the former Motherwell man is at his best as a wide forward, using his physical prowess and athleticism to run over the top of smaller full-backs, not attempt a Doidge 2.0 impression.
Though Doidge is expected to return soon, Hibs should still be looking at reinforcements in the January window, even with Chris Mueller arriving.
The loan market
It’s a dicey area to trade in, as Hibs have found themselves this campaign, but it’s one which can often bring in a cheap solution on a short-term deal that won’t hamstring the club if things go wrong.
Unless they want another Premiership side’s scraps – and there really aren’t any strong contenders out there for who they can pick up in January that would certainly improve the squad and fill a Doidge void – it’s likely they’ll look to England or abroad.
The expiring contract
A club of Hibs’ size can always look to lure someone in the upcoming window through the pre-contract process: agree on a deal, unsettle the player, get the club into agreeing to a modest fee to release him immediately.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many currently plying their trade in Scotland who will interest Jack Ross and the recruitment team too much. Motherwell’s Tony Watt is the best option as his Fir Park deal ticks down towards its final six months. Though the former Hearts loanee is famous for scoring against Barcelona for Celtic, his all-round game is about much more than sticking the ball in the back of the net. He could both deputise for Doidge and Nisbet, while also having the versatility to drop into a No.10 role or play wide of a front three.
Behind him it gets a bit more underwhelming with the likes of St Mirren squad player Lee Erwin or Ross County forward Jordan White the other notable target men available next summer. Hibs could maybe see if Steven Fletcher wants to make an emotional, end-of-career return as the 34-year-old currently plays the role of perma-sub with Stoke City. Speaking of which...
The expensive free agents
There remains the option to pick up a striker, right now, for nothing! Gems can often be found on the scrapheap, particularly at a time where the lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still being felt across football. Typically, however, these guys are either not good enough, injured or washed up. The rest are generally too expense. That said, the longer players such as this go without a club, the more a modest offer from a club like Hibs become more appealing.
Hal Robson-Kanu and Yaya Sanogo would represent two experienced and talented target men if Hibs could possibly persuade them that a short-term deal at Easter Road would be in their best interests of winning a more lucrative deal either in January or the summer.