Globetrotting Martin Boyle provides headache for Hibs ahead of Premier Sports Cup semi-final
Hibs boss Jack Ross will be crossing his fingers that Martin Boyle emerges unscathed from the upcoming international break, with the Australian forward set for a lengthy trip to represent the Socceroos.
It was confirmed on Thursday that Graham Arnold’s side will play their first match on home ground in more than two years, with their key World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia fixed for CommBank Stadium in Sydney, home of Western Sydney Wanderers FC and rugby league sides including South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Australia haven’t contested a home match since October 2019, when they defeated Nepal in Canberra prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. It remains the only 2022 World Cup qualifier that the team has played at home, with the other 11 matches being played overseas.
However, with Australia facing Saudi Arabia in New South Wales before travelling to face China, Boyle will be racking up the air miles in the week before Hibs face Rangers at Hampden in the semi-finals of the Premier Sports Cup.
The game's scheduling for Sunday November 21 does provide the winger with additional time to recover but a near-24 hour flight to Australia, coupled with a nine-hour journey time to China, and around a 12-hour trip from East Asia back to Scotland could take its toll on the 28-year-old.
The match in Sydney will be set at a 75 per cent capacity, meaning a maximum crowd of around 22,000 could be in attendance.
Football Australia chief executive James Johnson praised the national team for coping with a lack of home games, adding: “Despite the challenges which this has presented, the Socceroos have performed exceptionally well. They have a great record when playing Fifa World Cup qualifiers on Australian soil and we’re delighted that the team will have the opportunity to return to Australia to continue their Fifa World Cup quest in front of Australian fans.
“It will also be a chance for the Australian public to witness some exciting new national team talent, including players like Ajdin Hrustic, Martin Boyle and Harry Souttar, who have been making great contributions to the squad throughout 2021.”
Australia currently lie second in Group B behind Saudi Arabia.