Josh Doig on his new Hibs role and why facing Hearts is 'biggest game in world’
Supposed to be played at New Year before the winter break was shifted to minimise the impact of covid on the match day experience, Tuesday night’s derby, under the Easter Road lights, is eagerly anticipated.
“I’m nervous before any game, I’ve been like that since I was a young boy," admitted the Hibs defender, "but it’s good to be nervous before a game. You can use that energy.
“The fans will be more rowdy but it’s just football, isn’t it? For me, it’s the same as playing down the park.”
Except his mates are professionals, thousands of punters will be watching and there is more than bragging rights at stake.
It is very different from last season, when Hibs were in the ascendancy, a division above, and the only meeting was in a vacuous Hampden.
Now, Hibs are the team chasing, and a home win is necessary to prevent Robbie Neislon’s third-placed men extending their advantage. And just as there was when the pair served up a 0-0 draw at Tynecastle in September, the stadium will be full of passionate fans.
“They don’t get any less exciting,” Doig added.
“It’s massive for Hibs and the whole team is buzzing. We just want to get to Tuesday and play. There’s a great energy about the group just now.”
Having made his impressive breakthrough at a time when covid restrictions left the stands lifeless and silent, this season was always going to be a test for the teenager. But it is not just the additional noise he has had to shut out as the clubs’ on-field fortunes faltered and speculation about his own future forced him to mature..
“Playing in front of fans is 100 times better but it was probably easier to come into my first season without the fans being there.
“Everything is part of a learning curve.
“There was all the speculation and I tried to stay away from it…but we were led to believe that I was going, then the next thing it wasn't happening and my head was absolutely scrambled.”
But, with his new gaffer, Shaun Maloney, tweaking the system, giving him greater attacking licence on the left flank, Doig is back playing with a smile on his face.
“I’ve absolutely loved it so far. The way the gaffer wants to play is exciting and for me and Cadds [right wing-back Chris Cadden], we are definitely getting forward more. I have always been a fullback or even centre half but now I have added to my game.
“The other night I had a few shots on goal! It didn't go to plan but at least I am getting up there and it is exciting. There is a structure behind it and it is just about learning it. It is really now just about that attacking third and getting the ball in the back of the net. That's the thing that wins games.”
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