Hibs winger fired up for Celtic challenge after Socceroos heartache
Back from the international arena and ready to resume his favoured position on the right wing, Martin Boyle bristles with energy as he looks forward to the challenge of facing Celtic at Easter Road tonight. After the disappointment of bowing out of the Asian Cup in the quarterfinals, the Socceroos star is itching to take his frustration out on someone.
Revealing just how cruelly efficient the return-to-club protocol had kicked in following Friday’s loss to South Korea in Qatar, Boyle said: "The flights got sent to us straight away, we knew exactly when we'd be home. I just tried to get back ASAP.
“The majority of the boys flew out at one a.m. after the game. The attentions turn that quick and that was the same for me and Lewis (Miller). We wanted to link up with the boys and get on to the preparations for facing Celtic.
"It is a great opportunity for us tomorrow. It might sit different with a lot of people, but we know what we have to do. We have to go on a run, we have to do something. I'm back with the family and the kids - it's been great for me. I loved the opportunity that was given to me, but my attentions turn quickly.”
While Boyle admitted that his first proper taste of tournament had exceeded all expectations, Miller’s experience in Qatar ended on the lowest of lows. Two rash tackles after being thrown on as a late substitute effectively cost Australia a place in the semifinals.
Boyle said: "I tried to help as much as possible. It wasn't great after the game. Social media can be horrible at times - but people are entitled to their own opinion. Sometimes it can go a bit heavy.
“It was a mistake that wasn't intended. Passions are flying in the game, and he thought he could win the challenge. It didn't work out but there will be plenty more opportunities for him. This is probably the best thing for him, getting into a game like this. He's normally performed really well against Celtic. Hopefully he can do that tomorrow.
“Obviously after the South Korea game the messages came rolling in. It’s hard. I wasn’t really getting direct messages like that.
“I just gave him a bit of encouragement to stay off it for a bit and keep the head down, maybe phone the family and get some support from other people and the manager here. We’ve all came back and given him a big cuddle and he’s raring to go. He can’t wait to get the Hibs shirt back on.”
Boyle is equally keen to get involved, having kept a close eye on his club even while in camp with the Socceroos, the winger admitting: "I watched all the games I could. I couldn't watch the Forfar game - Hibs TV weren't showing it - and I was flying back for the St Mirren game. I've watched the game review with the lads in the meeting room and dissected that down.
"It's obviously not ideal because you're part of that team - this is my team. But without being selfish, my full focus was trying to perform for the national team. Now that I'm back, that's at the back of my mind. I'm raring to go.
"I was always keeping in touch. A lot of boys came in and some left. I've seen it all before - I've left and come back to new players. I've been thrown straight into a game without knowing the majority of the players. It's normal to me and should be normal to everyone else. We just need to be together collectively. We need to give our all and hopefully turn the corner.”
Admitting that it would be “inexcusable” if Hibs don’t qualify for European football via the Scottish Premiership, Boyle understands the situation better than most. He’s just relieved to be back and contributing to the cause. Especially if it entails a return to happier territory.
Deployed as a stand-in striker for most of the games before he jetted off to Qatar, Boyle watched with interest as Emiliano Marcondes, Eliezer Mayenda and Myziane Maolida joined Hibs during the January window. Adam le Fondre returning to full fitness is another bonus.
Admitting that he’s spoken to manager Nick Montgomery about returning to a more traditional winger’s role, Boyle said: “I like to stand players up, I like to be creative and make runs in behind. Hopefully with the signings we have made we can get Dylan Vente back up top and back in form and scoring goals like we know he is capable of doing.
“Hopefully us wide players can give him chances and get close to him and not leave him on his own. We need to start doing that and do it quickly.”