Nisbet, nine months after damaging his ACL in a game against Celtic, was back on the Easter Road turf on Saturday as Lee Johnson’s side lost 2-0 to Middlesbrough in a friendly. But just three days earlier, Hibs confirmed Boyle would be sidelined for the rest of the campaign. It was a crushing blow to the winger after he was forced to pull out of the Australia squad for the World Cup. He remains in Qatar, where he underwent an operation to mend the problem, to offer his support in the dressing room to the Socceroos.
The long road back to fitness is one Nisbet is familiar with and he hopes his experiences can now be of benefit to his team-mate “I was devastated for him because obviously I know what it’s like,” said Nisbet, who played the opening 45 minutes against Boro. “I’ve been there. It’s quite a similar injury to mine as well.
“I will be with him every step of the way. I will help him through and give him pointers on what I did to make me feel better. It is a lonely injury but I will be there for him as much as I possibly can. It’s just really bad timing for all parties. Australia would have loved him to be fit because he’s a big player for them but I’m just gutted for him.”
Nisbet and Boyle were instrumental in Hibs finishing third during the 2020/21 season, scoring a combined 35 goals across all competitions. Hibs struggled last term after Boyle left in January for a seven month spell in Saudi Arabia but Nisbet has vowed to soften the blow of his lay-off by spearheading the Hibs attack.
He added: “I think it’s just really, really, really bad timing, if I’m honest. I think the fans know how well me and Martin play together. It’s as if it’s one in, one out. It will obviously affect us because Martin is a big player but I think it puts a lot more pressure on me and I’m happy to take it. I have dealt with that responsibility at every club I’ve been at and I’ve scored goals. Hopefully that continues.”
Hibs went into the World Cup break on the back of a woeful league run that saw Johnson’s side lose six of their last seven games. Nisbet had been desperate to get back to help his team-mates during that run but is now targeting a competitive return when they resume Premiership action at Rangers on December 15. Before that, he will get more minutes against FC Edinburgh in another friendly.
He added: “I think that’s why there was a debate about putting me back in. Obviously the boys were on a bit of a bad run, not scoring goals, and I think that’s why the gaffer was thinking about putting me back in. But the physio said it was maybe not a good idea to rush me back. The decision was taken to do it now and I’m looking forward to the Rangers game. I actually feel for the physios. I’ve been moaning a lot the last four or five weeks but I think it was the sensible decision to keep me away and bring me back in now. I’m probably better off for it.”