Martin Boyle to have second knee operation as Hibs boss discusses injury
Heckingbottom admitted the loss of Boyle – who missed the second half of last season after tearing his meniscus while playing for Australia – had “put a dampener” on final preparations for the opening day of the new Premiership campaign.
While he’s hoping to add to his squad to help compensate, the Easter Road head coach conceded it would be difficult to find a like-for-like replacement.
He said: “Martin’s stand-out asset with his pace, his energy. Looking at his physical stats when I first came in, his output in games, distance covered, high speed running, sprint distance were all a bit of a weapon in the way we want to play.
“So that’s the quality that we’ll be looking to replace. That’s difficult, not everyone can run like him. It is what it is, at least we can react to it still being in the window. If it had been the beginning of September we couldn’t. So we’ll see what we can do.”
Heckingbottom revealed the initial surgery was designed to leave Boyle with more cartilage in the knee and “less bone on bone but with that came potentially more complications in the rehab.”
He said: “Martin is now in a position where they will remove quite a lot of the cartilage, which long term will be more bone on bone. A lot of footballers have it and it’s not ideal. But there are less complications with the rehab.
“Martin’s operation is booked in next Tuesday and we’ll know after that how long he’ll be out, whether it’s gone well or not and what to expect.
“You tick it off stage by stage in your rehab. He’s fit when he’s fit, there is no point in us rushing him and planning to have him back for a certain game, it will take as long as it takes.”
Asked how close he was to finding a replacement for the Australian internationalist, Heckingbottom said: “I don’t know. I could say ‘him,’ pick up the phone and find he has gone somewhere else. Until you get them over the line it is always a million miles away.”