Hibs forward Martin Boyle has revealed how the arrival of Australian striker Jamie Maclaren could help him play in this summer’s World Cup.
Boyle is eligible to play for Australia as his father Graeme was born in Sydney and he’s hoping the addition of Maclaren to the Antipodean contingent playing in Scotland will persuade the Football Federation of Australia to have a closer look at the Premiership before this summer’s finals in Russia.
Maclaren has made no secret of the fact he’s come to Easter Road on loan in the hope of boosting his chances of being part of the squad which will face France, Peru and Denmark in Russia, having lost his place after a move to German side Darmstadt turned sour.
Australia have named Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, who guided Holland to the 2010 World Cup final, following the surprise resignation of Ange Postecoglou only weeks after steering them to a play-off win over Honduras.
With Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic a regular in the Aussie set-up and former Under-23 cap Ryan Edwards also playing in the top flight in this country with Partick, Boyle reckons assembling reports on potential candidates spread throughout the world will be high on Van Marwijk’s agenda.
Although he was born in Aberdeen, Boyle admitted he’d have to give any possible approach from Australia serious consideration, revealing he’s already been grilling Maclaren.
Conceding it was a “big if”, the 24-year-old said: “Apparently I am eligible through my dad being born in Australia and if anything came about I’d probably grasp it with both hands.
“The World Cup is coming up and Australia have friendlies arranged against Colombia in London and a game in Norway in March, so I’m sure their new coach would want to have the likes of Jamie and the other Aussies playing in Scotland checked out.
“If they were to know that I am eligible then, who knows, they might have a look at me as well. Obviously I wouldn’t be expecting to walk straight into an international squad, but as far as I am concerned, it’s a case of keeping performing for Hibs and see if anything comes of it.”
Boyle, who recently signed a new four-year contract with the Capital club, has already played for Scotland at under-16 level and admitted there would be some red tape to be negotiated should that situation ever arise, not least the fact that, as yet, he doesn’t have an Australian passport.
He added: “I don’t know what the possibilities are, but I’m sure it’s something that could be sorted out if the situation were ever to arise.
“To play for any country would be a great honour and I still have family in Australia. Any international game would be a pleasure to play in.
“If both Scotland and Australia came up, I’d have to weigh it up and see what the best route is to go down, but it is all just a big if at the moment.
“Jamie has said he’s come to Hibs to kick on and try to be picked for the squad this summer and hopefully that will happen for him. He’s been in and around the squad so I’ve been speaking to him about it, asking what it’s like.
“For me I just want to play my football and enjoy it as I am at the moment. But if someone was to come chapping at the door, or I got a phone call, then I would take if from there. If the call were to come that would mean I am doing well for Hibs.”
To that end, Boyle’s focus is firmly on tomorrow night’s Premiership match with Motherwell, his goal at Fir Park having proved to be the difference between the sides last time they met.
The Lanarkshire side, however, came from two goals down to force a draw on their last visit to Easter Road where, Boyle admitted, Neil Lennon’s players have to improve their home form.
Although currently sitting fourth in the table, everyone within the Edinburgh club is well aware their results on their own turf pale in comparison to their exploits on the road, with just four of their 11 home games thus far having been won.
Tomorrow’s clash will be Hibs’ first at home since drawing 1-1 with Kilmarnock a month ago, Lennon’s side having returned from the winter break to a testing schedule of three away matches in just six days with a trip to Ibrox to follow Motherwell.
A measure of their away form is the fact the weekend defeat by Celtic was only their second of the season, Leigh Griffiths’ strike the difference in a match Hibs dominated for long spells without, again, being able to take the goal-scoring opportunities which came their way.
Nevertheless, Boyle insisted he and his team-mates can take great heart from their performance against the champions.
Injuries to skipper David Gray, Steven Whittaker, Marvin Bartley and Ross Laidlaw have restricted Lennon’s options. However, that has been balanced by the return to form of key figures such as Ofir Marciano – the goalkeeper having pulled off memorable saves against Hearts, Dundee and Celtic – while midfielders John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch have been more like their old selves and Lithuanian internationalist Vykintas Slivka making the most of an extended run in the team.
Boyle said: “It will be good to get back home. Hopefully there will be a good crowd in to see a good game. It’s another must-win for us. We have teams chasing us, but we want to be challenging for that Europa League spot.
“The fans deserve the style of football we play against teams away from home. We were bitterly disappointed not to take anything from the Celtic game. I thought we passed the ball well and they never really got a kick of it in the second half.”
He conceded, however, that Hibs must find a way to take the chances such as those which fell for him and Brandon Barker at the weekend.
He said: “At a place like that, you will be punished at the other end if you don’t take them, but I think it says a lot to us that we’ve now gone toe-to-toe with Celtic four times this season and there’s been nothing between us.
“Whoever it is we go to win. We went there, played an attacking formation and didn’t just try to sit in and defend. We have a small squad at the moment, but you want to push yourself on and play despite having so many games so quickly.
“You might have a niggle but you don’t want to say you are not fit, you want to give yourself every opportunity to play. Sometimes you just have to brush yourself down, pick yourself up and go again.