By Paul Jones
The Hibernian striker missed out on selection for the Nations League squad as manager Ryan Giggs opted to recall Euro 2016 hero Hal Robson-Kanu as his back-up striker to Kieffer Moore.
Robson-Kanu came on as a substitute for the final half-hour of the 1-0 victory over Bulgaria in Cardiff, but Hibs head coach Jack Ross still believes Cwmbran-born Doidge can force his way into the reckoning in time for the delayed Euro finals next summer.
Ross said: “I spoke to Christian in the aftermath of him not making the squad. His first emotion was one of disappointment because he has been in consistently good form for a while now.
“But it was a case of reminding him, very obviously, if he continues to do what he’s doing, and he has done, then he will keep giving himself every opportunity.
“And also Christian’s career path, he has had to deal with a lot of rejections, knockbacks, set-backs along the way. He has continually had to prove people wrong, if you look at his background.
“And he should continue to have that motivation. He will have no problems that way.
“He was a little bit sore because he was working towards it but all he has got to do is continue to do what he’s doing and get better – continue getting better. And if he does that, I’m sure that will come for him at some point.”
Doidge has scored two goals in six Scottish Premier appearances so far this season, to add to the 18 goals he scored last season, and has helped his club to lay second in the table, behind leaders Rangers.
The former Dagenham and Redbridge, Forest Green Rovers and Bolton forward had a slow start to life in Scotland last season, but his first league goal in October opened the floodgates and he hit 16 goals in his final 23 matches of the truncated campaign.
That made 28-year-old Doidge hopeful of winning a first call-up for Giggs’ squad for Nations League games against Finland and Bulgaria but the striker was overlooked as Giggs went for Robson-Kanu, Tyler Roberts of Leeds, Schalke’s Rabbi Matondo and Moore of Cardiff as his four forwards.
Robson-Kanu – who will be 32 in May – came out of international retirement in January, but while he enjoys cult following among many Wales fans for his momentus goal against Belgium in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, his overall scoring record in international football is modest, with five goals in 44 appearances spread over 10 years.
Former Wales and Celtic striker John Hartson also believes Doidge has the talent to make the breakthrough and that Giggs will not be put off by the fact the striker is playing in Scottish football.
“There’s no doubt Christian is unlucky,” said Hartson. “He just needs to keep banging in the goals and then he can’t be ignored.
“That will keep him in the limelight – work even harder, keep improving and add to his goal tally, because Ryan Giggs will be keeping an eye on how he does.”
“I’m a big fan of Christian. I loved his goal up at Dundee United the other week when he really showed his strength, touch and finishing ability.
“I’m delighted we have another target man to bring in. I look back to when we had myself, Nathan Blake and Iwan Roberts – and Christian is another one in that mould.
“You look at Christian’s career path and it’s the story of someone who has overcome setbacks and challenges to reach the highest level in Scotland.
“If he keeps that jersey and helps Hibs stay towards the top of the league, then I’ve no doubt that next step for him – playing for Wales – can come.”
“I won a lot of my caps while leading the line for Celtic and, although we were playing at a very high level – winning titles and doing well in Europe – my domestic football was still being played in Scotland and it didn’t set me back.
“Ryan isn’t blind to the quality in Scotland and he’ll have scouts up here telling him all about the games and the competitive standard. Whether Christian is selected or not, I don’t think it will be because he is in Scotland.
“I don’t believe that Ryan would be so naive as to write off the quality of the SPFL, especially if Christian is scoring goals at the top end of the Scottish Premiership.”