Hibs' Martin Boyle insists he is ready to start Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic
Winger rescued Hibs from the bench against Livingston - now he wants to make impact from the start
Hibs winger Martin Boyle has declared himself ready to start in tomorrow’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic after marking his return from long-term injury with a goal on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old has spent the majority of 2019 on the sidelines after he sustained a serious knee problem last December before suffering a recurrence shortly after his return to action in July.
Following a surprise ten-minute cameo against Livingston which featured a stoppage-time equaliser, Boyle is hoping to play a prominent role for Paul Heckingbottom’s team at Hampden this weekend.
“I hope I’ve done enough to be involved but that’s up to the manager,” he said. “If I’m in the team, then I’ll give everything that I’ve got, and if I need to come off the bench then hopefully I can make an impact again.”
Boyle admits this has been a year of “hell” so far and is eager to re-establish him in the Hibs team. He explained that the mental torment of recovering from serious injury has been exacerbated by a sense of helplessness as his colleagues have slipped into a relegation battle in the opening quarter of this season.
“It’s been hell, watching all the games and feeling down,” he said. “It ruins my weekend as well. I don’t go home as happy as Larry but you need to come in day after day, do your rehab and get through it. It can be frustrating. When things are not going our way and you’re watching from the stands it can be difficult.
“I’ve been training by myself, running on my own for a while and I just wanted to be involved. I’ve probably been annoying the manager by chapping on the door and being so keen to play. He told me that minutes were required but if I can get on and help the team then that makes it all worthwhile.”
Despite the struggles he has endured this calendar year, Boyle - whose wife Rachael plays for Hibs Ladies - is able to draw some positives. “If there are any positives about being out then it’s maybe that I’ve bulked up and am coming back stronger,” he said. “I feel really lucky to be in this position as a professional football player and the physio I received from the staff, Rory Monks, Tommy Scanlon and Nathan Ring - I really trust that team and they’ve got me back out there.
“I put on a brave face at training because you need to be like that around the boys. The likes of Darren McGregor is always talking to me. He has had a couple of long-term injuries and can tell me what he’d been through.
“I was quite lucky in the sense that I had a new-born just before I got injured, so coming home and having the wee one keep me on my toes was good. It’s also been tough because Rachel has been banging in the goals and I’ve been a WAG! I’m going along watching her play football and I’m holding the wee one while she’s racking up the hat-tricks!”
Boyle’s plight was made even more demoralising because it involved a long and gruelling fightback in the opening half of 2019 before he suffered a recurrence of his injury in the Betfred Cup win away to Elgin City in July. “I was just getting back to competitive games and could feel myself getting back in the groove,” he explained. “But as soon as I went down, I knew it. I knew what I’d done and that it had happened again. It was the exact same feeling. These have been my first and second long-term injuries - I just hope they are my last.”