When this summer’s transfer window opens it is fair to say we’d all expect Celtic to be rather busy. A squad rebuild is on the horizon for what could be the biggest overhaul since Martin O’Neill took over two decades ago and picked up the pieces from the Barnes-Dalglish debacle.
This time around Celtic is in need of both first team players and squad players across almost every position – and one of the most acute areas requiring addressing is at full back.
On the right side only Anthony Ralston is likely to be moving on, given he seems so out the first team picture, and the unimpressive Jonjoe Kenny will soon be returning to parent club Everton. That only leaves ex-Manchester United youngster Lee O’Connor currently, out on loan at Tranmere as part of next season’s supporting cast at best.
Whilst on the left side Greg Taylor may well now only be viewed a good squad option. As such if Celtic intend being competitive in both the league and in Europe next season the former Kilmarnock player will certainly require competition and surely that won’t mean a permanent deal for positionally ill-disciplined Diego Laxalt or perish the thought Boli Bolingoli getting a chance at redemption in a Celtic shirt…Can it?
We’ve been looking at some closer to home options and one of the standout performers this season at left back, in fact THE stand-out performer has been Josh Doig at Hibs.
Doig first came to Celtic fans notice in a 3-1 victory for Celtic over Hibs in a pre-season friendly prior to the Scottish Premiership kicking off. Fast forward to the present day and the young full back who grabbed the stunning opening goal that day has now been shortlisted for Scotland’s young player of the year alongside our own David Turnbull as well as Lewis Ferguson of Aberdeen and Nathan Patterson of theRangers. On top of that Hibs have nailed down their player on a deal to 2025 knowing fine well what sort of talent they have on their hands.
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Doig has to have a great chance of winning that award. The youngster started the season standing out for his energy and athleticism bombing up and down Hibs left flank and has even managed to find the time to perform at right back and right midfield to boot. Yet what appeared initially to be youthful endeavour from the young Hibee, slowly but surely developed into a player with more added to his armoury with each passing game.
Doig has a change of pace we’ve all been hoping Greg Taylor could miraculously add to his game and is more than capable of delivering a final ball. His ability to beat a man and deliver crosses first time rather than take a touch allowing defences precious seconds to regroup is something Celtic could very much take advantage of, as is the varying nature of his deliveries as Doig is more than willing to hit the touchline and cut the ball back when it is on, as the variance in his attacking play seemed to improve with each passing month.
Meanwhile defensively, something I’d written him off for somewhat after Jeremie Frimpong gave him the run-around against Celtic at Celtic Park, in a game where Doig was hooked for veteran Lewis Stevenson hasn’t disheartened the lad and his defensive performances have steadily improved.
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Doig, despite still being shy of his 19th Birthday has now made 39 first team appearances across this season as Hibs regular under the excellent Jack Ross and also on loan at Queens Park. He has played at left back, left midfield and in Central defence as well as those spells on the right side of Hibs defence and midfield. He is very quickly becoming a very rounded footballer and has career attacking stats of two goals and six assists, he’s also already been involved at international level at both under 18 and under 19 with Scotland.
Doig at 18 years old is clearly going places and if Celtic are wise, it would be no bad thing to move now rather than wait to see how this one develops. Doig is already attracting interest from the top flight in England with no less than Manchester City reported to have scouted the youngster. Yet staying in Scotland and moving his development into a side expected to win every week and allow him the chance to develop further with exposure to European opponents, he would also have the advantage as a young man of still staying relatively close to home at the early stages of his development.
Celtic meanwhile need to ensure as much as possible that no young talent from under our noses leaves Scotland without us at least ensuring we are involved in any transfer discussions.
Josh Doig is starting to look as if he’ll be courted by some of the biggest of clubs and as such we cannot afford to wait. This is a transfer conversation we not only have to be asking to be kept abreast of, we have to initiate it.
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Celtic have tried and failed to replace Kieran Tierney with deals for Bolingoli, Taylor and an astronomically expensive and failed experiment with Diego Laxalt. For me Doig is the best left back prospect Scotland has produced since Tierney broke through at Celtic, as such there is no point being risk averse with this one Celtic need to act fast.
There is not only a fantastic footballer playing out of Easter Road and one that could enhance Celtic’s squad as he himself continues his upward trajectory, there is also a player who with the right exposure could feasibly offer a huge profit further down the line. It looks like signing Josh Doig would suit those of us looking for fine footballers to grace the Hoops and those in the boardroom with a close eye on the sell on value. If only we’d been as sharp with a previous Hibs player!