Martin Boyle: Doubts grow over Hibs forward's World Cup participation as Australia fly potential replacement in

There are increasing fears that Hibs’ Australian forward Martin Boyle will not be fit to play at the World Cup due to his knee injury, with Melbourne City winger Marco Tilio flown in to Qatar as a possible replacement.

Australia and Hibs forward Martin Boyle is fighting to overcome a knee injury.
Australia and Hibs forward Martin Boyle is fighting to overcome a knee injury.

Boyle injured his knee last month in Hibs’ 3-0 win over St Mirren and has not played since. The 29-year-old travelled out to Doha last week to continue treatment on his joint, but has yet to take part in any training. With the Socceroos’ first match of the tournament next Tuesday against France, manager Graham Arnold has called on Tilio and he will be integrated into the camp. FIFA rules say that a change to the squad can be made 24 hours before a country’s first match.

Missing the World Cup would be a savage blow for both Boyle and Australia. Capped 19 times, he was an integral part of the team that made it to Qatar via the play-offs and is regarded as a key player under Arnold. While The Guardian reports that Australia remain hopeful he can overcome the injury, he missed another day of training and time is running out for him to prove his fitness.

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“Over the years everyone can see what a big player he is,” Hearts and Australia midfielder Cammy Devlin said of his international team-mate. “He does it week in, week out over in Scotland for Hibs. He’s been a massive player for them and takes it into his country, Australia. He’d be a massive loss, but I think it’s just precautionary because we’ve got the first game in a week. But if he wasn’t to play he’d be a massive loss.”

Denmark and Tunisia are the other two teams in Australia’s group and Boyle could miss the French match and play a part in the subsequent other fixtures. Arnold, however, faces a big call on what he does with one of his best players, while Hibs will be awaiting news anxiously back in Scotland, given their alarming recent results without Boyle in their starting XI.