Scotland boss Alex McLeish has admitted Australia may snatch Martin Boyle after he decided not to name the Hibs winger in his squad for next week’s UEFA Nations League match against Israel.
McLeish was well aware that Socceroos coach Graham Arnold was expected to include Boyle, whose father Graeme was born in Sydney, in his plans for a friendly against Kuwait as the Aussies begin to prepare their defence of the Asian Cup and had watched the 25-year-old turn in a man-of-the-match performance last week against Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup.
But, with Celtic’s James Forrest and Ryan Fraser of Bournemouth playing in the same position, McLeish decided against pulling him into the squad for the match against Israel on Thursday, October 11 and a friendly with Portugal at Hampden a few days later.
McLeish explained: “Martin’s been in great form over the last year or so. I just felt we are pretty rich in that position. We have a lot of players and I don’t want to mess people about, just bringing them along as a cheerleader, bringing them along because they have been in great form of recent times.
“What will be, will be. If it’s meant for Martin to play for Scotland, it could happen. You have just got to watch this space and he has got to keep playing to that level. Australia may snatch him but, at the moment, I have got some really good players in that position.
“I was going to ask to take him (to Peru and Mexico) but he was ruled out through injury.”
Arnold, who met Boyle and watched him play for Hibs against Kilmarnock during a flying visit to Scotland last month, said the player was “very excited” at the prospect of playing for Australia and now the way appears clear for him to call up the former Montrose and Dundee man.
McLeish has named Hearts pair John Souttar and Steven Naismith, former Hibs midfielder John McGinn and ex-Tynecastle goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin in the squad which will play Israel in Haifa on Thursday week and Portugal in a friendly at Hampden the following Sunday.
Scotland: Gordon (Celtic), A McGregor (Rangers), McLaughlin (Sunderland), Hendry (Celtic), McKenna (Aberdeen), Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), O’Donnell (Kilmarnock), Robertson (Liverpool), Shinnie (Aberdeen), Souttar (Hearts), Tierney (Celtic), Armstrong (Southampton), Forrest (Celtic), Fraser (Bournemouth), McDonald (Fulham), McGinn (Aston Villa), C McGregor (Celtic), McTominay (Manchester United), Snodgrass (West Ham United), Griffiths (Celtic), McBurnie (Swansea), Naismith (Hearts), Russell (Kansas City).