PETER GRANT JR knew Josh Doig possessed the character and quality to become a Hibernian mainstay from the moment he made his Queen’s Park debut – and played like a veteran of 100 games.
Doig’s rise this season has been nothing short of meteoric, making his senior bow on the opening day of the Premiership season against Kilmarnock and retaining his place ever since.
The 18-year-old, who joined the Hibees from city rivals Hearts last summer, is keeping legendary left-back, Lewis Stevenson, out of the side and has been consistently impressive for a team which is yet to concede from open play.
While Doig’s progress has raised plenty of eyebrows, it has come as no shock to Spiders ace Grant, who starred alongside the precocious defender during his loan spell at Hampden last term.
“Josh came into a new dressing room at Queen’s Park, new surroundings and playing men’s football, and he embraced it from the start,” said Grant. “So, I’m not surprised to see him doing exactly the same thing at Hibs.
“From his first couple of appearances for us, it was like he had 100 games under his belt. I was watching him and thinking ‘yeah, this kid has really got something’.
“He has a brilliant attitude and willingness to learn, and he takes everything in his stride.
“His application to training was outstanding and he had a great willingness to do both sides of the game. Plenty of players are happy to bomb forward, but he had the wherewithal and desire to get himself back into position.
“He has the tools to go really far and have a great career.”
The Covid-19 outbreak meant that Doig’s stint in Glasgow’s was curtailed after seven appearances, albeit Grant did hope the move would be resurrected for the upcoming campaign – a notion that now seems fanciful.
He laughed: “From a selfish perspective I was hoping that we’d get him back – so that part of it is a little bittersweet! But I genuinely couldn’t be happier for Josh. He’s a fantastic lad.”
Despite his early success, Grant is adamant Doig will not get carried away with his early progress, citing a maturity beyond his years and a hunger to learn and improve.
“He’s a grounded boy, which is really important,” Grant adds. “He’ll not be in the building thinking ‘I’ve made it’.
“He wants to learn and improve every day and is at a great club to do that.
“The manager here [Ray McKinnon] gave him that freedom to play and express himself and got the rewards – now the same thing is happening at Hibs.”
Grant, who initially made his mark with Falkirk – even scoring in their narrow Scottish Cup defeat against Inverness in 2015 – also reckons the influence of the usurped Stevenson will prove invaluable.
And he sees similarities with his own relationship with Bairns stalwart – and current co-manager at Falkirk – David McCracken during his formative seasons.
“I’ve played against Lewis [Stevenson] a few times and he is just the perfect role model in terms of his consistency, longevity,” added Grant.
“I really can’t think of many better people in Scottish football for Josh to be working with every day and learning his trade.
“I was only a couple of years older than Josh when I came into an excellent Falkirk team and to have David McCracken alongside me was massive. He has played at a high level in Scotland and England, and that was a daily learning curve.
“Josh will be getting the same education and, knowing him, he’ll be taking it all in.”