Robbie Stockdale has admitted there is a huge temptation to rush Martin Boyle back into action in a bid to help kick-start Hibs’ faltering season with Saturday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic following tonight’s league clash with Livingston.
Boyle has been sidelined following a second knee operation of the year as the Easter Road side have gone nine games without a win, leaving them only a single point off bottom place in the Premiership table.
Injured while on international duty with Australia, Boyle was ruled out of the second half of last season as he recovered from surgery, only to damage the same knee in his third match back and hasn’t played since the end of July.
Head coach Paul Heckingbottom has regularly confirmed the 26-year-old is making good progress while the player himself has frequently taken to social media to indicate his desire to get back into action.
But, insisted Stockdale, Boyle’s welfare must be the over-riding consideration. The assistant head coach said: “Martin has been out a long time with two nasty injuries. There is always a temptation to put players back in as soon as you can.
“I think we have to have a responsibility and a wellness issue to him, that we have to do it properly by him even although we would love to have him involved.”
Intriguingly, however, when asked if there was any chance Boyle might be available for the weekend, Stockdale , pictured, replied: “Come back to me on Thursday.”
Meanwhile, Stockdale has challenged the players, without a win since the opening day of the season, to “stand up and be counted” against Livingston.
He said: “They are a tough team, full of experienced men. We have watched them a lot, we have been to the games and they have picked up some really good results.
“It will be a tough, tough game and our players have to stand up and be counted, especially in tough times. This is where you find the players who are brave, who will still take the ball, stick the chest out when they go on the pitch. That’s what we need.
“Everybody is wanting to do well, everybody is trying to get over the line and once it happens, I am sure it will happen time and time again.”
Livingaton manager Gary Holt has urged his team to concentrate on their own game and not be distracted by Hibernian’s troubles tonight.
Holt is convinced his team can add to Hibs’ woes but insists their focus must be on their own performance and not their opponents.
The Lions played out a goalless stalemate with Hearts at the weekend, despite the dismissal of Aymen Souda’s four minutes after the interval.
Holt, who will find out today whether Souda has won a wrongful dismissal claim, said: “Hibs are so many games unbeaten, but it’s five draws. That shows you they can score goals – but it also shows they’ve a wee bit of vulnerability.
“We need to be guarded, we need to be on our toes. We know we can go there and compete, but it will take a monumental effort.
“But I want to be worried about how we’re performing and solely focused on how we can approach the game.”