Neil Lennon believes Martin Boyle will enjoy a new lease of life after the Hibs winger’s stunning step into international football, scoring twice in his first start for Australia.
As a result, Boyle found himself the centre of attention Down Under, having used the fact his father Graeme was born in Sydney to pledge his future to the Socceroos. He came off the bench to make his debut against South Korea last weekend before bagging a brace and an assist against Lebanon on Tuesday.
Now Lennon is hoping that experience will be reflected in Boyle’s performances in a green-and-white shirt, admitting he’d been “a bit off-colour” in his past couple of games with the thought of playing for Australia having perhaps been a distraction.
The Easter Road boss said: “Martin got a huge boost, and it was a huge boost for the club. Individually it was fantastic and it shows the progression he has made even over the last couple of years. It is really fantastic for him and we are all really pleased for him.
“As long as he brings that form to us, that’s the main thing, because he’s been a bit off-colour in the past couple of games. His mind was a little bit distracted, but you get that with inexperienced players. We now need him to knuckle down and show that form for us.
“In terms of his own persona, it will give him that little bit extra confidence that he can compete at international level and have an impact. Hopefully that confidence will exude on to the pitch for us. We have nine games between now and the end of the year and he is an important player for us.”
Confirmation of the impression Boyle made in those two games came in a text to Lennon from Australia coach Graham Arnold, saying they were pleased with his performances, leading the Hibs boss to add: “He is going to be an asset for Australia by the look of things.”
Lennon joked that Boyle had already matched what he’d achieved for his own country, Northern Ireland, in “about 40 games”, adding: “Hopefully he can knuckle down here and concentrate on his club. It was a distraction for him and that’s understandable and now he can do what he’s good at.”
Boyle and team-mates Mark Milligan and Jamie Maclaren returned to training with Lennon’s squad yesterday and are ready to play against Dundee today (kick-off 3pm) as is midfielder Vykintas Slivka, who picked up an ankle knock while on international duty with Lithuania. Central defender Paul Hanlon is also in contention after missing the last six matches with a leg injury, as is left back Miquel Nelom, although the game may come too soon for club captain and right-back David Gray, although he is back in training.
Meanwhile, Lennon revealed there was nothing in reports linking Hibs with a move for Gillingham striker Tom Eaves, saying: “I don’t know where that’s come from.”