Confident Doherty believes he can make a difference

 

THE CLUB, Wolves, where he will return to during the summer may have been relegated from the Premier League a few weeks back but Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon insisted yesterday loanee Matt Doherty has the ability to play at that level some day. It’s probably as well because at 20, the Wolves right back’s attitude does not always seem likely to get him there.

His spell with Hibernian, who are basing themselves just up the road from the defender’s family home in Swords ahead of this weekend’s William Hill-sponsored Scottish Cup final, has gone well and provided a base, it seems, for progression at Molineux where he feels he can be a serious contender for the right-back slot.

He and Fenlon, though, have had their moments since linking up in January, like the one fairly soon after he arrived when he did much to turn the game around – in the wrong way – and the manager moved to replace him prompting Doherty to trudge past the dugout to the dressingroom.

“It was Motherwell away,” he says with a slight shake of the head. “We were winning 1-0 at half-time then I gave away a penalty. Then I scored. The guy I was marking scored a hat-trick as well so that obviously didn’t help. At half-time I was going to say ‘this guy is rubbish’. A half-hour later he’s scored a hat-trick and I’m walking off the pitch after being subbed.

“We were losing 4-2 and I got taken off because I’d given away two penalties. I just walked off and went straight down the tunnel, I didn’t even think about it, I just walked straight off, proper slow as well. He wasn’t happy with that.”

In fact, he adds, “I’ve never really seen someone be that angry to be honest”.

The pair have made their peace now with Fenlon hugely positive about what the player has brought to the SPL outfit as he found his feet in the first team and Doherty confident he has done enough to start Saturday’s final against Hearts.

Doherty is friendly as well as funny and comes across as confident about most things. He seems put out, as a result, he has only been put on standby by Noel King for the forthcoming under-21 internationals against Italy and Denmark despite some of those who have made the cut not having had anything like the season that he has had at club level.

“I think I should be in it, I don’t know why I am not. I don’t have anything really to say. Being on standby, there are a lot of players on standby, it’s not just one player, there are quite a few on it so it doesn’t really mean anything to me at all.

“After the Hibs game my phone is going off, I’ll take a holiday,” he says before backtracking slightly and suggesting he would take a call – and call-up – that comes through his agent.

When it is put to him he might be damaging his prospects of a future international career he disagrees, insisting his lack of opportunities under King so far means that he is doing no more really than accepting the reality of the situation. “It’s not as if I am saying that I will never play for them. I am just disappointed not to be in the squad. I haven’t been in it before. Maybe if I was in it before then it would be different but I have not.”

Later, Fenlon suggests that the player, who was with him briefly at Bohemians too, needs to be a little more patient and says that King has explained he wants to stay loyal to a group that has done well for him. Doherty will have a big stage on which to make his point this weekend, though; after which he should keep his head and, ideally, his phone on.