'Lewis is back where people love him' - Hibs boss throws arm around Socceroos defender

Right back given a pasting by Oz fans after Asian Cup exit
Australia defender Lewis Miller brings down South Korea's Son Heung-min to concede a 96th minute penalty in the Asian Cup quarterfinal.Australia defender Lewis Miller brings down South Korea's Son Heung-min to concede a 96th minute penalty in the Asian Cup quarterfinal.
Australia defender Lewis Miller brings down South Korea's Son Heung-min to concede a 96th minute penalty in the Asian Cup quarterfinal.

Under-fire Aussie defender Lewis Miller is back among people who “love” him, according to Hibs boss Nick Montgomery. And the gaffer admits he had to put an arm around the Socceroos fullback following his Asian Cup nightmare.

Miller could return to the starting XI for tomorrow night’s visit of Celtic to Easter Road. He and fellow Australian international Martin Boyle are both back in training at East Mains – and both fit to start if required.

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While Boyle’s first international tournament was marked by individual success, Miller found himself being vilified on social media after conceding a penalty and a free-kick that allowed South Korea to come from behind and knock the Aussies out of the tournament on Friday. Graham Arnold’s team had been among the favourites to win the whole thing yet exited at the quarter-final stage.

Montgomery acknowledged: “It was a really difficult moment for Lewis. Anybody who knows the history of the game knows that, in big moments, players can make mistakes.

“Lewis is a great kid; he does have confidence. But that’s going to affect anybody. The most important thing is that we’ve given him our support since he came back.

“We’ve got good people at the club. I’ve spent time talking to Lewis and putting my arm around him, because he really has to move forward now. Everybody makes mistakes. As long as you learn from it.

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“He’s still a young player, nobody is more disappointed than Lewis with what happened, but he’s back here now with the boys who love him and support him. The best thing for him is to get back into games and play the way he can.”

Declaring the Socceroos both raring to go as Hibs look to bounce back from Saturday’s awful 3-0 home loss to St Mirren, Monty said: “If you know anything about Martin Boyle and Lewis Miller, you’ll know they just want to get back playing football. Martin has scored his first goal at a major tournament, he’s been away for six weeks, so you want someone like him back in the team.

“Lewis has been a starting player who has had a real quick acceleration in the international team. When I came here, he wasn’t in the team, he became a regular and got himself into the international set-up. A lot has happened to him in the space of six months.”

Paul Hanlon was back at the training ground yesterday but still suffering from an illness, while Chris Cadden is expected to make the bench again – but isn’t fit enough to start his first game since the end of last season. Montgomery knows he’s under pressure after taking just two points from the previous six Premiership games.

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The Yorkshireman said: “Anyone who knows me knows I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life and my career. These are the times when you have to be resilient. I think I’m resilient.

“I understand the frustration of the fans because no-one was more frustrated with the weekend result than me. We’re working hard to rectify the things that went wrong.

“As a manager, you have ups and downs. Now is the time to stand strong, we’ve got boys coming back from international duty giving us a real boost. And the new boys coming in now understand how we work a bit better, tactically.

“Pressure comes with any job, especially at a club like Hibs. I accept that pressure. I accepted the challenge when I took the job, knowing there would be a rebuild going on.

“I know where the club is heading in the big picture. But right now I understand the need to get a bit of form back.”