Martin Boyle has hailed the freedom he has been afforded by Neil Lennon as a major factor behind his impressive form this season.
The 24-year-old has been a regular feature in Lennon’s team this term, making 17 appearances, scoring five goals and becoming one of the most threatening wingers in the country.
Boyle has found the net in each of Hibs’ last three victories – against Motherwell, Kilmarnock and former club Dundee – and cited Lennon’s willingness to let him do what he does naturally as one reason behind his impressive displays.
“I’ve worked harder than I have before, I’m trying to build myself up to be stronger and the manager has given me the freedom to go out and play,” Boyle said. “If I run down the line and lose the ball, then try it another 50 times! He says I’ll beat them more often than not. It helps to be part of this squad . . . John McGinn, Dylan [McGeouch] and big Marv [Bartley] the enforcer, these guys give you the ball in great areas and let you play. If you make the right runs, they will find you. It’s been a pleasure.
“The gaffer is demanding, he’s a winner. He is a very hard man to please. Even when we win games, there are still things he is not satisfied with. However, that has been brilliant for the club and, personally, he has been brilliant with me and given me a really good chance.
“At the start of the season he came out and said, ‘we are going for second!’ That is just the way he is. He is getting the best out of all the players and he rightly got manager for the month [for October]. Hopefully that continues.”
Boyle, speaking at Hibs’ golf day at Archerfield, also feels that Lennon’s “winning mentality” – the Northern Irishman claimed several trophies as a player and a manager with Celtic – and attacking instincts are rubbing off on the club, who now sit third in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
“He has brought a winning mentality into the club,” said Boyle. “He has been there, done that. He won’t lie down to anyone and is a very attack-minded manager. Two wingers, plenty of strikers and really goes for it.”
After winning four league matches in a row, the Easter Road side are just two points behind second-placed Aberdeen, albeit having played a game more. Boyle believes there’s no reason why Hibs can’t overhaul his hometown one over the course of the season.
“Catching Aberdeen is realistic,” he insisted. “They beat us at Easter Road, but I didn’t think there was much between the teams. They just showed one moment of quality to open us up. But we have beaten Rangers, given Celtic two really good games and we know what we are up against in the league now. We are not here to make up the numbers.
“The first quarter was about getting a feel for the league and picking up some good results, but I think we now know what we are really capable of and, if we keep injury free, then we can have a really good campaign.”