Hibs winger Martin Boyle could be playing football non-stop for almost two years after Australia accepted an invitation to play in next summer’s Copa America.
Boyle opted to play for the Aussies thanks to his father Graeme having been born in Sydney, joining his then Easter Road team-mates Jamie Maclaren and Mark Milligan in the Socceroos squad.
But in only his third match, a final warm-up game against Oman ahead of January’s Asian Cup, the 26-year-old suffered a serious knee injury which brought his season to a premature end.
Now, though, the Easter Road flyer is nearing full fitness having joined new head coach Paul Heckingbottom’s squad for pre-season training and with Aussie boss Graham Arnold keeping tabs on his progress he could find himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
However, the tournament - which is being hosted by Argentina and Colombia - runs for a month from mid-June meaning Boyle, if selected, would have no summer break with Australia also scheduled to play World Cup qualifying matches.
Qatar, as winners of this year’s Asian Cup, have also agreed to participate, with the tournament consisting of two groups, Brazil, Colombia, Edcuador, Peru and Venezuela and one of the invited nations in one and Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile with the other invited country in the other with the top four teams from each advancing to the quarter-finals.
Arnold sees the chance of playing against such opposition as ideal preparation for his squad’s assault on the 2022 World Cup which will be played in Qatar.
He said: “The Copa America is a highlight of the football calendar and we can’t wait to get there. “We crave these opportunities as players and coaches. The experience we will gain from playing in this tournament will be incredible and I know by speaking to our players, they are equally excited about being part of one of the World’s most prestigious football tournaments.”
“Our planning for the FIFA World Cup Qatar has already started. We are building depth amongst our playing group, as evidenced by our performance in Korea Republic last week and playing in this tournament provides another layer of incentive for our players to put themselves up for selection for the national team.
“It will be a big couple of months as we start June next year with World Cup qualifiers and then head straight to the Copa America.” Cowdenbeath, meanwhile, are hopeful of re-signing Jordan Allan after Hibs ended their interest in the 20-year-old striker.
Former Airdrie and Wolves player Allan had been on trial with Hibs as he looked to earn a return to full-time football after hitting nine goals during a six-month spell with the Blue Brazil last season. But the Easter Road club will not be pursuing their interest.
That could be good news for Cowdenbeath boss Gary Bollan, who said: “I want Jordan to come back to us and continue his development.
“Hibs have said that they will not be taking things further but we are keen for him to return and the ball is in his court over that.”