Embattled Hibs take medicine and move on: Martin Boyle's thoughts, Lewis Miller abuse, Nick Montgomery's shouting

The St Mirren debrief was not pretty but with their two Aussies back for Celtic match, Hibs hope they can bounce back from weekend horror show

Tanned from his month in Qatar, Martin Boyle unsurprisingly quipped ahead of press conference on Tuesday that he did not miss the freezing wind that so often blows around Hibs’ East Mains training base.

But that’s not the only biting thing embattled Hibs have to deal with right now. With just two points from their past six Premiership matches – the latest being a dreadful performance in losing 3-0 to St Mirren last weekend – they are sliding down the table and facing criticism from an increasingly concerned fanbase. It doesn’t get any easier on Wednesday night when champions Celtic visit Easter Road.

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Hibs will be glad to have Boyle back, who has not played for them this year due to his international commitments with Australia at the Asian Cup. The Socceroos were seconds away from reaching the semi-finals last Friday, leading South Korea 1-0, before a ill-judged tackle from another Hibs player, Lewis Miller, resulted in a penalty concession five minutes into stoppage time. Hwang Hee-Chan converted it and the South Koreans went on to win in extra time.

Martin Boyle, centre, trains ahead of Hibs' match with Celtic.Martin Boyle, centre, trains ahead of Hibs' match with Celtic.
Martin Boyle, centre, trains ahead of Hibs' match with Celtic.

Australia’s loss is Hibs’ gain. Boyle and Miller are likely to play from the start against Celtic. Unlike their Hearts compatriots Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles, there is no rest. Not that Boyle wanted it. “I just tried to get back ASAP,” the forward said. “The attentions turn that quick and that was the same for me and Lewis. We wanted to link up with the boys and get on to the preparations for facing Celtic.”

Boyle has kept abreast of developments back in Edinburgh as he pulled on the gold and green. "I watched all the games I could,” he said. “I couldn't watch the Forfar game – Hibs TV weren't showing it – and I was flying back for the St Mirren game. I watched the game review with the lads in the meeting room and dissected that down. It's obviously not ideal because you're part of that team – this is my team. But without being selfish, my full focus was trying to perform for the national team. Now that I'm back, that's at the back of my mind. I'm raring to go.”

Hibs have missed Boyle, who is such a big part of what they do. But they have also missed Miller, who has made the right-back spot his own. In his absence, two callow teenagers in Rory Whittaker and Kanayo Megwa have deputised. Unsurprisingly, Hibs have been targeted down that flank and have conceded goals in that area. Miller has impressed this season, not least in the two matches against Celtic, but he requires a pick-me-up. His error for Australia led to some pretty nasty criticism on social media.

"I tried to help as much as possible,” Boyle said of his team-mate. “It wasn't great after the game. Social media can be horrible at times but people are entitled to their own opinion. Sometimes it can go a bit heavy. It was a mistake that wasn't intended. Passions are flying in the game and he thought he could win the challenge. It didn't work out but there will be plenty more opportunities for him.

Fellow Socceroo Lewis Miller is also available for selection after the Asia Cup.Fellow Socceroo Lewis Miller is also available for selection after the Asia Cup.
Fellow Socceroo Lewis Miller is also available for selection after the Asia Cup.

“I just gave him a bit of encouragement to stay off it for a bit and keep the head down, maybe phone the family and get some support from other people and the manager here. We’ve all came back and given him a big cuddle and he’s raring to go. This is probably the best thing for him, getting into a game like this. He's normally performed really well against Celtic. Hopefully he can do that again.”

Boyle may not have played against St Mirren but he will be fully aware of the ineptitude of such a display. The team meeting afterwards was not especially pleasant. “I wouldn’t say talking, I’d probably say a little bit more shouting,” manager Nick Montgomery said of the debrief. The Yorkshireman has come in for a lot of flak in the wake of such a performance. “I’m a passionate guy, I wear my heart on my sleeve and if anyone knew me as a player or manager then I’m a competitor. The number one thing in this this league is you have to compete. It’s a physical league and you have to compete first and foremost. Yes we have quality players but if you don’t match the opposition for fight and you give poor goals away it’s going to be difficult. Most teams go through a flat performance like that at some point in the season. What you can’t do is dwell on it. You have to move forward. It’s up to me to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Montgomery hinted that midfielder Nathan Moriah-Welsh, a summer signing from Bournemouth, may start against Celtic after showing up well as second-half substitute against the Buddies. A manager has to shuffle his pack after such a damaging defeat. But he also reinforced that patience may be required as Hibs are moulded into a proper team given all their injuries, absentees and new signings over the past six weeks.

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“It’s a learning curve for the new boys coming in and those that have been here a while as well,” continued Montgomery. “They need time to gel. Change is good, we needed change. But t’s also hard, it’s not easy to expect instant results. I know that’s what supporters expect and I understand their frustration on that result but right not if I look at the situation since the international window, we’re through to the next round of the cup, had a good draw with Kilmarnock, lost to Rangers but we had five good goalscoring chances, they had five, they scored three and we didn’t score any. Not only defending, we need to start punishing teams when we get chances.”