Christian Doidge is in team for reasons other than goals, says Hibs boss
Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom has defended Christian Doidge, insisting the striker is in his team for “other reasons than goals”.
The £350,000 summer signing from Forest Green Rovers has yet to score in the Ladbrokes Premiership – his only contribution so far being two goals in Betfred Cup matches against Alloa and Morton – and was guilty of a string of glaring misses as Hibs were held to a draw by Aberdeen at Pittodrie last time out.
However, head coach Heckingbottom was adamant the Welshman’s style of play can benefit the Easter Road side, highlighting the “different job” he is being asked to do.
“We are not asking him to impact the game in the last 20 minutes,” he explained, “but lead the line and focus on his qualities. We want more from him and the way he plays can help the team. We want him to play to his strengths, get us up the pitch and use his aerial threat and be the one linking the play and holding the ball. He also has to make sure he is a threat at set-pieces in the opposition box and defending set-plays in his own area.
“He is in the team for other reasons than goals. When you are winning these things are not highlighted but when chances are missed and costing you points, you have to speak about them.
“It is small consolation that Doidger was in the position to miss chances as it does not make me any happier.”
Heckingbottom also had some words of assurance for goalkeeper Ofir Marciano after the Israeli internationalist lost his place in the Hibs team.
After starting the season as the head coach’s No 1, Marciano has found himself on the bench following a run in which the Easter Road club lost 13 goals in only four league games. Chris Maxwell has now been handed the gloves.
Marciano spoke of his situation while on international duty this week. While insisting it was “business as usual” and that he would “be professional until the end”, the 30-year-old appeared to cast doubt on his future in the capital by adding: “I have a contract for another year after this season. It’s impossible to know if I’ll leave.”
However, Heckingbottom made it clear it’s now up to Marciano to rise to the challenge of ousting Maxwell. He said: “Ofir is not playing so he’s not going to be happy. You don’t want any player happy if they’re not playing.
“Ofir is professional, he loves the club and he wants to be here. He wants to be in the team and we’ll back him and push him as hard as he can so that when he is called upon again he is ready to go, that’s all you can do.”