'Return of our talisman has lifted everyone' - Hibs boss hails Cup hero
Hibs boss Nick Montgomery singled out the return of “talisman” Martin Boyle as crucial to the Easter Road side regaining some much-needed momentum with a Scottish Cup win in the Highlands. The Socceroos star bagged his first goal since returning from international duty at the Asian Cup – and bagged an assist as the visitors ran out 3-1 winners over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Speaking after watching his team secure their place in the last eight, Monty – who gave Chris Cadden his first outing since the end of last season, in the closing minutes - said: “Martin is massively important to us. I’ve been saying it since January, when we lost the boys to international duty, four of them. It’s great to have him back.
“Not having Martin Boyle, Lewis Miller and Rocky Bushiri, you need all those boys fit and available. You can see the difference in the last two games when we’ve had Martin back, he’s been a real threat.
“On and off the park, he lifts people. He’s a character. And not only do you miss players; you miss characters.
“He’s a talisman and he’s always a threat with his pace. He’s also unselfish, so he creates goals and scores goals. You saw today just how much he loves playing for Hibs and being out there – no doubt he’s missed it over the last six weeks.”
Revealing that the entire squad had greeted Cadden with an ovation after his first outing since the final game of last season, with everyone recognising the work he’s put in to recover from a serious Achilles’ injury, Montgomery said: “It’s massive for Chris. We’ve tried to accelerate everything in the last couple of weeks. Today was a great opportunity, just when the game looked quite comfortable, to put him on.
“When you’ve been out for so long, just to get back on is a big step. And you see the reception the fans gave him. We’ve missed him as much as they’ve missed him.
“We had a little moment in the dressing room where the boys gave him a round of applause. Because when you’ve been out for that long, it’s a real difficult journey back to playing. But that’s a big step for Chrissy today.
“He definitely needs more game time. He’ll be disappointed at the end not to get across and stop that finish for their goal. But fair play to the lad, it’s a fantastic finish in the top corner.”
A week on from their 3-0 home humiliation against St Mirren, and with Wednesday night’s agonising loss to Celtic still fresh, Hibs could reflect on an impressive result at a tricky venue, Montgomery saying: “I’m still disappointed we didn’t beat Celtic in midweek. That is still a little bit raw today. I think that spurred the boys on today.
“I think we deserved two wins from this week. It’s only one win – but it’s put us through to the next round.
“There were five new players who started the game that I brought in during January. We are still getting boys fit and what I’ve lacked all season is the ability to make impact off the bench.
“I planned to make changes at half-time. That gave us the ability to play at a high intensity and then make changes as and when needed. I thought everybody who came on really contributed to the result.
“It’s a positive end to the week. We’ve got players back. We’ve got a squad back together, which we didn’t have in January.
“It’s never an easy cup tie, coming here on a difficult pitch. But I’m really pleased with the boys’ effort today and happy we’ve progressed to the next round. Job done.”