Quick learner Boyle can cope with transition from Socceroos to Hibs duty
Vibes manager. Livewire. Always on, always great craic, guaranteed to add energy, fun and excitement to every session, leaving team-mates roaring in laughter at his sheer cheek.
Martin Boyle clearly likes being seen as the archetypal “daft laddie” of football. Up to a point, anyway.
Well aware that there’s value in defenders pigeon-holing him as just another free-spirited forward never prone to overthink a situation, he’s been known to play up to the image.
Yet this is a guy who can play – and has played – in a number of different positions. Someone who has adapted to another change in management at Hibs with relative ease.
And he’s done all of the above despite fulfilling international commitments that keep him away from East Mains just when new gaffer Nick Montgomery could do with ALL of his players in the building.
Monty spent this international break doing exactly what he did during last month’s hiatus. Hammering home the key elements of a game plan radically different to that of predecessor Lee Johnson.
While players were given some time to rest up, physically, there have been tactical sessions, shape work and other training ground exercises designed to improve all aspects of a 4-4-2 system that involves a lot of moving parts, each reliant on the other to produce the sort of dominant, controlled performance envisaged by the new coaching staff.
Rocky Bushiri returned from international duty with the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday.
But Socceroos star Boyle and relative international newbie Lewis Miller didn’t get back into the UK until yesterday – and only reported, uninjured but a little weary, to training this morning.
Miller arrived buoyed by winning Man of the Match honours on his first start for his country, as Australia kicked off their World Cup 2026 qualifying campaign with a 7-0 thrashing of Bangladesh in Melbourne last week.
Boyle, who missed a lot of football with an ACL injury and tweaked his knee again in the Viaplay Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen earlier this month, was rested for that game despite travelling all the way to Oz – but teamed up with his club-mate as they beat Palestine in Kuwait on Tuesday.
Yet again, then, the 30-year-old – desperate to make the most of his international career after missing last year’s World Cup through that knee injury, and with next year’s Asian Cup firmly in his sights – is playing catch-up.
Not a problem, according to Montgomery, who cracks the obvious joke when asked about working on his team without such a key player on the ground.
“It’s definitely quieter when he’s not here!” said Monty. “But Martin is an intelligent footballer, he’s really experienced – and he processes football information really well.
“So it’s not much of a problem with someone so experienced, as well. He understands what we want to do and, like I say, he takes things on board really quickly.
“The only worry with international players is they come back fit and healthy. You have to respect the travel and give them time to recover.
“But it’s important that the boys here got the work in because we don’t have any free weeks heading into December, when it gets pretty hectic.
“We’ve worked on everything. The things we obviously need to improve on but even the things we’ve been doing really well, as well as preparing for Dundee away on Saturday.
“We always start the week looking ahead to the game, laying out a plan for the game.”
A trip to Dens Park on Saturday represents a typically robust SPFL test for a manager who hasn’t been surprised by much since his arrival as successor to Lee Johnson.
“I knew a lot about the Scottish Premiership, knew that it was a really physical league,” said Montgomery, the Yorkshireman adding: “The stats tell you that there are a lot of crosses from wide areas and teams rely a lot on set pieces.
“We’ve come up against a lot of teams who play a back five and make it really difficult by getting numbers behind the ball, then look to catch you on transition.
“We knew the way we wanted to play. We want to be a team who plays with the ball.
“But obviously, in those moments when you lose the ball, you have to be ready for those transitions, when teams attack you quickly.
“There are quite a lot of teams in the league who play in a similar way, a back five, defending with a lot of bodies, try to frustrate you, make it difficult. I knew what to expect when I got here.
“Dundee did that to us last time, they really frustrated us in the 0-0 draw at our place. I think we had 26 shots to two on the day – but didn’t manage to break them down.
“That’s on us, we need to be better at breaking through, breaking teams down and taking our opportunities.
“They’re a difficult side to play against, they’re very well structured in what they do, and they’re having a great season.
“We analyse and respect every team we face. We have to be better at breaking them down, while defending the wide crosses and set pieces in every game, because that’s still a strength of the Scottish league.”