Hibs Martin Boyle's Australia hopes assessed as Lee Johnson mulls over early departure to specialist Qatari clinic

Hibs manager Lee Johnson believes injured Australian forward Martin Boyle will be fit to play for his country at the World Cup, but he will definitely miss his club’s final two matches before the break.

Hibs and Australia forward Martin Boyle is battling a knee injury.
Hibs and Australia forward Martin Boyle is battling a knee injury.

The 29-year-old took a blow to his knee in the victory over St Mirren at the end of the month and had to be substituted. While scans have shown inflammation to the joint and the player has visited a specialist in Manchester, Johnson reckons he will be able to take part in the global event later this month. Australia’s first match is against France on Tuesday, November 22 and Boyle is one of seven Scottish-based players in the Socceroos’ 26-man squad, but the player has been ruled out of Hibs’ final two leagues matches, against Ross County on Tuesday and Kilmarnock on Saturday, before the cinch Premiership goes into hibernation

“It looks positive,” said Johnson. “He’s in good spirits. We’ve probably had to make the decision that he is not going to be fit for the next two games and therefore there’s a handover that goes to the Australian medical team in conjunction with ours to give them the option to select him for the World Cup.

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“It’s the best case scenario from the scan results and the medical prognosis which is great. We wish him all the best but we’ve a couple of days with him where he can be important to us off the pitch. If the World Cup wasn’t on horizon he still wouldn’t have played these two games. Especially because of the astro [against Kilmarnock on Saturday].”

Johnson says he has faith in Boyle to judge his body when it comes to risking significant injury. “I’m happy to leave it up to Martin,” continued Johnson. “I trust him absolutely. There’s pain and the there’s risk of making injury worse, there’s a difference there.

“Pain can be managed sometimes by injections sometimes mentally but if a player feels that by risking this it’s going to affect his medium or long term future then we’ve had that conversation and we are of the same opinion that if that’s the case it’s a no go. I don’t think it will be though. I think he will be ok.

“We all have a positive outlook on it. He’s not twisted and turned and used that scampering pace he has yet. But every sign in terms of in the gym etc has been positive that he will make a full and swift recovery.”

Boyle may jet out to Qatar this week to visit the Aspire Unit in Doha, one of the best medical centres in the world. Johnson says he will make that decision imminently.

“I have got to make a decision whether he goes on Wednesday or not to the Aspire Unit in Qatar,” the manager continued. “That’s a really good unit and might actually be beneficial for us because he can undertake tests that maybe we couldn’t get a hold of at this level – strength, power, scans x-ray. It’s a world-class medical facility and sports science facility. Because we are off after Kilmarnock then more than likely he will potentially be selected or not after the Aspire Unit.

Johnson did admit, though, that he has need to manage Boyle carefully. “It’s been quite difficult for him,” added Johnson. “I’ve tried to be a support on a human level, try to keep him positive. The good thing is he has a fighting chance and I for one believe he will be making an appearance, if selected, for Australia in the World Cup.”