Forest Green Rovers boss explains how to make Christian Doidge a prolific striker for Hibs
Christian Doidge has been backed to become a prolific scorer for Hibs if he is given a regular supply of ammunition.
The Easter Road club bought the 27-year-old Welshman for a six-figure transfer fee from Forest Green Rovers in June after he scored 66 goals in less than three seasons with the Gloucestershire club.
Manager Paul Heckingbottom declared at the time that Hibs had made “a real statement of intent” by landing the striker on a three-year deal. However, Doidge has had an underwhelming start to his Easter Road career since joining, scoring just two goals against lower-league opponents in the Betfred Cup and then starting only two of his team’s five league games so far.
With Hibs struggling for goals in recent games, there is every chance Doidge will be pitched back into the starting line up in the coming weeks.
Forest Green manager Mark Cooper, who worked with Doidge in each of the past three seasons, aside from his four-month loan stint at Bolton Wanderers last year, is adamant his team’s former talisman will soon start delivering for the club.
“Christian was fantastic in his time with us,” Cooper told the Evening News.
“He scored a lot of goals and got a great move to Bolton which turned sour. He did brilliantly for us though. He helped get us promoted out of the National League, helped keep us up and continued to score goals regardless or whether we were playing well or not. I think if he’s played in the right way, he’ll always score goals.”
Cooper explained that the best way to get Doidge scoring is to allow him to remain high up the pitch and not to ask him to become embroiled in general build-up play.
“It’s not for me to tell Paul Heckingbottom how to play him but we played him predominantly as a No. 9 up on his own,” said Cooper. “He can play with a partner but he’s always got to be the one closest to goal.
“We played with a No. 10 behind him and all we used to work on with Christian was getting him to run towards goal and not to get involved in too much of the hold-up play.
“We wanted him to stay as close to the goal as possible. We had good players behind him and we served him up a lot of good chances. We didn’t want Christian playing outside the width of the box.”
Cooper insists there is more to his game than knocking in tap-ins, and referenced his brilliant strike against Tranmere Rovers in the 2017 Vanarama National League play-off final as evidence. “He’s not just a poacher - he scored all sorts of goals for us,” said Cooper.
“Look at his goal for us in the play-off final at Wembley where he cut inside and curled it into the corner from about 20 yards. It’s just a case of providing him with opportunities.
“Ideally you want to keep him within the width of the goalposts and have people supplying him.
Cooper dismissed the suggestion that the perceived step up from League Two in England to the Scottish Premiership may have caught Doidge out. “There are a lot of League Two teams who could compete in the Scottish Premiership,” he said.
“I believe Christian will get goals in the Scottish Premiership if he gets the right service. I think he’ll do great at Hibs. He’s a great professional who works his socks off. If he can get himself on a run, he’ll score a lot of goals.”