AUS-some Hibs star can't wait to get back Down Under
Home outing for Socceroos would be a dream for Miller
Twenty-three hours on a plane next to Martin Boyle? It’s difficult to know what poses the greatest risk to Lewis Miller – jet lag or simple mental exhaustion caused by trying to keep pace with the liveliest of livewire characters.
Get beyond the jokes about spending time in a confined space with the Socceroos’ self-appointed “vibes manager”, however, and it’s clear that Hibs defender Miller couldn’t be happier to be spending the international break traipsing halfway around the world.
Since making his debut for Australia - at Wembley, of all places – just last month, the fullback has been dreaming of a chance to pull on the green and gold on home soil.
Back in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Palestine, in Melbourne and Kuwait respectively, the kid from Sydney can hardly wait to get back Down Under.
Speaking before he set off on an epic journey that has become commonplace for Aussie veterans like Boyle, Miller was asked if he would be sitting side-by-side with his club and international team-mate.
“I certainly hope not,” he said, trying to maintain a straight face as he added: “I’m assuming we’ll be next to each other unless he’s upgraded himself to first-class - which I’m sure he has.
“I was lucky enough to get selected for the Socceroos and will be joining Boyler again, which is obviously a great experience.
“I love travelling and it’s going to be back home in my home country. It’s not Sydney but it’s Melbourne so it’s close enough - and I’ll take that.
“Going back to Oz is a dream. I loved it there, loved playing there, the lifestyle there and all my friends and family are there. I think a few of them are going to fly over (to Melbourne) as well. It’s a dream to play for the Socceroos and be back home.”
There are, as a general rule, two types of long-haul travellers. The sort who view it as an ordeal to be endured, often with a bit of pharmaceutical help. And those who embrace every minute of the experience.
Slumped in a comfy gamer-style chair at Easter Road, making a joke about it being a relief to sit down after a tough game on Saturday, Miller took the point when it was suggested that he’s about to spend a full day and night in a seat that, you would expect, will probably convert into a pretty comfy bed.
The 23-year-old’s enjoyment of the travel experience is rooted not just in exploring the world, of course. But in understanding what being part of this trip means.
His national federation so value his abilities as a footballer that they’re willing to fly him in from Edinburgh. That has to feel good.
“I really love travel, going to new places and back home,” he explained, adding: “It’s that feeling of being in that football world. As a kid you dreamed of going places as a footballer and I’m lucky enough to be going back home.
“Obviously fatigue is a bit of a factor, but the strength and conditioning coaches have sent me plans I can do on the plane, like when to sleep and what exercises to do on stopovers. It’s a very professional environment, I’m glad to be there - and hopefully I can stay there.
“It’s a matter of me performing week in, week out - and (Socceroos boss) Graham Arnold said it’s all about minutes and performing for your club.
“I just have to maintain this performance, consistency. The better the team does, the better I do, the more I’m in the spotlight and I’ll progress and progress.”
Miller, of course, was one Hibs player who knew exactly what to expect when Nick Montgomery arrived as a replacement for Lee Johnson back in September. And his old Central Coast boss has lived up to all expectations – leaving the defender no room for slacking or excuses.
“He’s like my dad, to be honest,” said Miller. “I’ve been with him since the Mariners academy, and I’ve said before it’s a tough love. He’s going to tell you when you’re out of place and when you’re doing the right thing.
“But if I listen to how he wants me to play and his philosophies then the team will fly - and I’ll fly individually.
"He knows who I am as a person. He knows how to keep me in line and behave.
“There’s a lot of respect for him at this club, as there should be. We’re going to follow him step-by-step, trust the process and I think we’ll get wins down the line.”
Asked if Monty had slapped his wrists for a booking at the very end of Saturday’s gritty 1-0 win over Kilmarnock, with Miller involved in what appeared to be a bit of both verbals and sign language at full-time, he admitted: “It was a little bit heated at the end.
“But that’s always going to happen, especially with such a physical side. But there was nothing to it, a win’s a win.
“A few heated words amongst one another, nothing more. It’s just a physical team and there will always be that backlash, especially in the Scottish league.
“But, as the gaffer said, you feel miles better going into the break with three points.”