Hibs are set to be without Martin Boyle, Jamie Maclaren and Mark Milligan for the Edinburgh derby and up to four games in the New Year after the trio were included in Australia’s Asian Cup squad.
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The Socceroos first game will take place on January 6, eight days after Hibs host rivals Hearts in their final match before the winter break, but Australia coach Graham Arnold wants his squad to meet in the host country, the United Arab Emirates, on December 26.
It is unclear at this stage whether Hibs will be granted special dispensation to keep Boyle, Milligan and Maclaren for the derby on Saturday, December 29 – three days after the planned meet-up for the Australia squad. They will almost certainly be permitted to play against Rangers on Boxing Day.
An Australian Football Federation spokesman told BBC Scotland: “This [December 29] is two days over the Fifa regulation and has been communicated with all clubs.
“It ensures some players get an extra game in for their clubs and enjoy Christmas with their families and friends at home.”
Should Australia suffer an early exit from the tournament – which is unlikely – the trio may not miss any significant action in 2019.
The final group game is on January 15, four days before Hibs host Elgin City in the Scottish Cup and over a week before the first league game after the winter break.
However, if Australia are able to reach the final on February 1 then the three Easter Road stars will also be unavailable for league matches against Motherwell, St Mirren and Aberdeen, while they’d also be doubts to start away to Celtic in February 6 due to lack of rest.
Celtic’s Tom Rogic has also been included in Arnold’s 23-man squad.
Australia are the current holders of the tournament and have reached the final on each of the past two occasions. They are, however, placed as fourth favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers, behind Japan, Iran and South Korea.