JOSH DOIG was an unknown kid when he first walked through the door at Hampden.
Now, Hibs boss Jack Ross has heaped praise on the precocious youngster as Doig prepares to return to the national stadium as a fully fledged first-team star.
The 18-year-old enjoyed a formative loan stint with Queen’s Park last season and immediately established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet for Ray McKinnon’s men.
Doig made seven appearances for the Mount Florida men after joining last January, with his momentum only brought to an abrupt halt when the Covid outbreak halted football.
In an interview this season, his Spiders teammate Peter Grant recalled: “From his first couple of games for us, it was like he had 100 games under his belt!”
Doig’s upward trajectory has continued this term and, having already enjoyed 18 senior outings, he is almost certain to start ahead of club legend Lewis Stevenson against St Johnstone on Saturday.
And Ross lauded: “At 18 years old, for Josh to have played so many games and made the impact he has is impressive.
“He is growing all the time in stature and becoming more confident.
“I speak often enough about Lewis supporting and helping him – and I think that we’ve used Josh sensibly this year, in terms of the times we’ve brought him out of the team.
“But at the moment, he is in the team on merit, which is great for him.”
Doig’s place in side for the Betfred Cup semi-final was effectively assured by a man of the match showing in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock.
He roused the game from its slumber following a dreadful first half, surging down the flank after the break and delivering a tantalising cross which Alan Power turned into his own net.
That broke the deadlock and set the Hibees on their way to a crucial three points.
Doig’s dash down the left was one of several lung-bursting runs forward, and he could have been awarded a penalty when he appeared to be felled in the box later in the contest.
Ross continued: “Josh’s energy in the second half was a big part of our success, his contribution to the opening goal was big and he should have had a penalty after driving forward.
“Josh, like most of the team, was better in the second half than the first.”
Meanwhile, Hibs striker Christian Doidge admits he understands the attacking conundrum faced by his manager – even if it means he must be content with a place on the bench at times.
The big Welshman has been benched for the Hibees’ last two games, with Ross choosing to utilise a 4-3-3 formation with Kevin Nisbet as the sole out-and-out striker.
And Doidge said: “Growing up I always played with a partner and I think me and Kev [Nisbet] work together – but when we play against different teams I understand that sometimes it helps to have that extra man in midfield.
“It is hard to warrant having two strikers on the pitch sometimes, especially away from home.
“When we have played one up [front], the system has worked well.
“It is a difficult decision for the manager because he knows that me and Kev do well as a team when we do play together.
“Kev and I have a good relationship and we want to help improve each other.
“We know that it’s part of football; sometimes you are left out, sometimes you are the man leading the line.”