'He's just getting better and better' - Graham Arnold hails Hibs' Martin Boyle as Australia boss looks ahead to World Cup qualifiers
Adopted Socceroo has scored twice in four games for his country - but coach thinks there's even more to come
Australia national team coach Graham Arnold has hailed Martin Boyle's impact for Hibs since returning from a second serious injury in 12 months.
The adopted Socceroo sustained a nasty knee injury while on international duty ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in January, ruling him out of the tournament and the rest of the Scottish domestic season, only to suffer a further setback in the summer when he damaged the same knee during a Betfred Cup group match at Elgin City.
Since returning to action, the 26-year-old has scored six goals, including doubles against Aberdeen and Hearts, and registered three assists in 12 games. His form has prompted former Easter Road head coach Alan Stubbs, who first brought Boyle to the Capital club, to tip him for a move to Celtic, just weeks after he was named the Scottish Premiership Player of the Month for December.
But speaking to The World Game, Arnold believes there is even more to come from the speed-merchant, who bagged a goal and an assist in Hibs' 2-2 Scottish Cup draw at Dundee United on Sunday.
• READ MORE - Why Hibs may soon need to field big bids for star man Martin Boyle“We haven’t seen a lot of Martin so far with the national team because of a few setbacks,” Arnold said.
“But we knew a lot about him before he opted to play for Australia and he’s just getting better and better. He’s a big asset for us because he can open things up with his attacking runs in behind, and his ability to beat a player with his speed and a bit of trickery.
“He also has a knack for picking the right pass or cross. On top of that, he’s got this instinct for finding space in and around the box where he can finish things off, which adds another dimension.
“That’s not something you can really teach - but he has it in spades."
Arnold is excited at the prospect of having a fully fit and in-form Boyle available for the March World Cup qualifiers against Kuwait and Nepal, and has been keeping in close contact with the former Dundee attacker throughout the year.
His absence was keenly felt as Australia limped to a quarter-final exit in the Asian Cup but he returned to action last November with a 17-minute substitute appearance over Jordan in Amman.
"It's really gratifying to see him back injury-free and enjoying his football," Arnold added. "He's playing with a lot of freedom and hunger and, for any coach, having a player who offers so much and poses such a threat, it’s a blessing.”