No rest for Hibs star as gruelling season extended by Socceroos call

Boyle has been called up againBoyle has been called up again
Boyle has been called up again
Boyle’s 50-game campaign goes into extra time in dead rubber doubleheader

Half centurion Martin Boyle will answer another Socceroos call-up for their doubleheader of dead rubbers against Bangladesh and Palestine – despite the Aussies having already guaranteed their place in the next round of World Cup qualification. The Hibs star, who has already been through a 50-game season for club and country, was named in Graham Arnold’s extended 25-man squad earlier today.

Following what Football Australia called “a gruelling 18 months of both domestic and international football”, Arnold has rested Socceroos captain Mat Ryan and a number of other senior pros. But Boyle has been given no respite – and is on his way to the team’s holding camp in Thailand.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Aussies take on Bangladesh in Dhaka next Thursday, then jet off to Perth for the visit of Palestine just five days later. Arnold’s men already top their group in the second stage of Asian qualifying for the 2026 finals, with four wins from four guaranteeing their place in the next round.

Boyle played a major role for Arnold’s men as they made it to the Asian Cup quarter-finals in January and February, with a month-long tour of duty on national service leaving the Hibs attacker feeling jaded. Having already picked up a knee injury earlier in the season, a concussion suffered in a Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat to Rangers - which ruled him out of March’s international window - further disrupted the 31-year-old’s rhythm.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Boyle sounded like a man staggering to the end of a brutal campaign as he admitted: “I’ll be glad to see the back of this season personally. I didn’t have much of a pre-season, I’d like to get a real good one this time. I didn’t get any games under my belt coming into the season and didn’t feel up to speed.

“I have been slogging along which has not been good for myself. There have been a few games where I have showed moments. But between concussion, the Asian Cup in between, a few niggles with my knee it has been stop-start. Hopefully I can go again pre-season and have a good season next year.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Arnold defended his decision to take a strong squad into two meaningless matches, despite admitting: “We’ve got several players who’ve had significant workloads in recent times, and it’s important we give them a proper break. I want to ensure they’re physically and mentally prepared for another big 12 months of qualification.

“Some players that I have rested, like Sam Silvera, are coming off the back of a 50-game season where he left the A-League before that and played 24 games for the Mariners so he's quite fatigued. 

“I’ve spoken about how important these two games are when it comes to official FIFA rankings. And while we’ve qualified for round three, it’s important that we take all six points. It’s an expectation we set ourselves as a group and, as always, getting our mentality right will be crucial to securing two wins and given ourselves the highest possible.”

That pursuit of FIFA ranking points now looks likely to force Boyle into games 51 and 52 of his own personal odyssey in season 2023-24. Hibs return to pre-season training at East Mains on June 21.