Martin Boyle World Cup dream under threat as potential replacement for Hibs ace flies out
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The speedy attacker was called up by Australia boss Graham Arnold for the finals in Qatar, which get underway next Tuesday for the Socceroos with an opening encounter against reigning champions France.
However, Boyle was forced off injured in Hibs’ 3-0 win over St Mirren last month and he has yet to recover enough to join in training with the rest of the squad.
Melbourne City midfielder Marco Tilio has now flown over to the Middle East as a potential replacement if Boyle doesn’t recover in time. Every nation has the ability to swap a player out of their 26-man unit for injury or Covid-19 up until 24 hours before their first match.
Manager Lee Johnson said this after Boyle limped off against the Buddies: “I’m praying it’s not too bad. I was very worried it was his knee, but it’s not. It’s down the side, sort of the top of the shin. We’re hoping the pain was contact to the nerve, because it went numb.
"I’m lighting a candle for him hoping he’s alright. It’s going to be difficult psychologically for him, but I have to say his professionalism has been outstanding, he has never shirked anything in training or games. That’s why he deserves to go to the World Cup, for that consistency.”
The 29-year-old returned to Easter Road earlier this season after a seven-month stint with Al-Faisaly in Saudi Arabia. He has netted five times in 12 games, including famously scoring a last-gap equaliser against rivals Hearts just hours after sealing his move back.