Martin Boyle: The Hibs physios will hate me - I am champing at the bit to play

Martin Boyle played for Hibs against Blackpool.Martin Boyle played for Hibs against Blackpool.
Martin Boyle played for Hibs against Blackpool.
Amidst the jeers of Andorra, Martin Boyle has confessed he was itching for more than the ‘cheerleader’ role he was restricted to. However, the talismanic winger is convinced he is now ready to help Hibs on the pitch this week as they bid to avoid more anger and embarrassment on the European stage.

Boyle made his long-awaited comeback from a knee injury as a youthful Easter Road side fell to a friendly defeat to Blackpool on Saturday, less than 48 hours after the ignominious 2-1 loss to the part-timers of Inter Club d’Escaldes in the Europa Conference League.

Second-half goals from Shayne Lavery, Kenny Dougall and Owen Dale – including two in the final five minutes – earned their newly-relegated League One hosts a victory that was, in reality, incidental in comparison to Boyle’s 45-minute run-out.

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The 30-year-old has been absent for nine months following surgery to repair historic anterior cruciate ligament damage and his pace, direct running and goals have been sorely missed. A frustrating spell, including being held back in recent weeks despite training fully, are hopefully finally at an end, however.

“It felt really good to get the confidence and adrenaline going and just to get that general buzz again," he said after his 45 minutes at Bloomfield Road. “It's been a long time out but it was nice to play my part and important to get minutes. The physios will hate me. I’ve been a bit impatient and, like the gaffer has said, I am champing at the bit to play. But it was just a nice feeling to get minutes at Blackpool.

“Thursday was difficult! It wasn’t nice to see, the performance wasn’t the best but the goal at the end [from Joe Newell] was crucial. We’ve got a second-leg to prepare for, but when you’re sitting on the bench – in my eyes I was fit to play – and the manager doesn’t want to take the chance, it’s tough.

"The gaffer said he took me along as a cheerleader but obviously it didn't work! I kind of knew the plan but in the back of my mind I did think there might be a chance I could get minutes. But it comes down to the manager and his decision and he’s stayed strong. He could easily have put me on but it was a quick turnaround to get minutes on Saturday and to try to get up to speed. I’ve got 45 minutes under my belt now, and hopefully I can play my part on Thursday.”

Goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott and defender Riley Harbottle, both recent recruits, added some experience to a youthful Hibs line-up bolstered by just three players – Jimmy Jeggo, Elias Melkersen and Dan Mackay – who had featured against Inter. The youngsters, especially Kanayo Megwa, Rudi Allan-Molotnikov and Reuben McAllister, held their own before succumbing late on. However, the bigger picture was always the one-goal deficit against Inter and avoiding the shame of an early exit from Europe on Thursday. Boyle is ready to help.

“I feel fine, I feel fresh,” he added. “I’ll need to rest and recover over the next few days and I’ve got a bit more testing to do to see if I’m still on track. Hopefully I can at least play a part, but it is out of my hands. It’s a massive game but I don’t pick the team. Hopefully I pull up well from the Blackpool minutes but if I’m called upon on Thursday I will be more than ready.”