Jack Ross believes Martin Boyle will improve for Hibs while playing for Socceroos

Manager believes the incentive of winger playing for Australia against Lionel Messi and Co can be a huge boost to club

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 10:30 pm
Martin Boyle is hoping to play in the Copa America

Hibs boss Jack Ross admits he has trouble at times getting his head around the fact that Martin Boyle is set to spend this summer rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi as Australia compete in this summer’s Copa America.

Along with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, the Aussies have been invited to the prestigious competition which will be hosted throughout June and July by Argentina and Colombia.

And that will bring Boyle, who qualifies to play for the Socceroos thanks to his father Graeme having been born in Sydney, face-to-face not only with Barcelona ace but his countrymen, the Manchester City duo of Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi.

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Buenos Aires on June 26 is undoubtedly a date Boyle has already ringed on his calendar for that meeting with Argentina while Australia will also play Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay with head coach Graham Arnold already eyeing a place in the last eight.

As mouth-watering as that prospect might be, Boyle is also likely to be heavily involved in the Aussies’ World Cup qualifying campaign, one which, so far, has gone exactly to plan with maximum points gained from their opening four matches.

But while the obvious kudos is there for Boyle on a personal level, Hibs head coach Ross believes there will be a huge spin-off for the Edinburgh club as the 26-year-old, already an integral part of his team, grows as an international player.

Having spent most of 2019 recovering from a knee injury which required two operations, the former Montrose and Dundee player had an immediate impact on his return to action, scoring vital goals against Livingston, Aberdeen and Hearts to help ensure Hibs ended the year in the upper half of the Premiership.

While Boyle’s lightning quick pace is an obvious asset, Ross insists there is much more than simple speed to appreciate.

“Him being back fit was a huge bonus for me,” said Ross who took over at Easter Road from the sacked Paul Heckingbottom in November.

“I’ve spoken about how good a player he is and not just somebody who’s quick. He’s also got a versatility which is great for me. To date, I think he’s played on the outside of a diamond, up front and as a wing back in my spell here.

“That’s because he’s got the willingness and the ability to do that. Players need ambition, personal ambition as well and for him to have that drive to continue his international involvement is big. If we can help him do that by us performing well and him doing well for us then I’m sure he’ll give himself every chance.

Ross firmly believes continued exposure to international football will see Boyle’s talents blossom even further in the coming months and years.

He said: “It’s something that’s overlooked in football at times, how players adjust to the level they go to or the people they play with. The players who can do that the best are the ones that undoubtedly progress.

“The superstars of the game would do that anyway but there’s guys that are just good at adapting. I’ve been speaking to Martin about it. He’s gone away with an international group and the quality and calibre of players that are in that group with Australia.

“He’s obviously done well enough to keep being selected so that’s testament to his ability to raise his game to different levels amongst some of them. There’ll be players playing at smaller clubs than him but equally there’ll be players playing at bigger clubs.

“Every time a player is involved with international set ups it opens their eyes up to other mindsets as well, especially if they’re working with top players. If that can improve him two per cent, five per cent, whatever it might be, then there’s a natural benefit to me.

“I know he’s got long journeys when he’s involved but we have the international break anyway. It’s only a win-win for us as a club.”

With that serious knee injury having put paid to Boyle’s hopes of playing in last January’s Asian Cup, the Copa America will afford him his first taste of an international tournament and, again, another opportunity to continue his football education on a huge stage.

Ross said: “I’m still getting my head round how Australia are playing in the Copa America! I’ve been joking with him. It’s huge. Any opportunity to play against top teams, top countries in different atmospheres as well is huge. He’s talked about how keen he is to continue his involvement and his club form over the last two months has been good.

“If he continues to do that in the last few months of the season then I’m sure he’ll be around that tournament.”