Hibs winger Martin Boyle has revealed how Easter Road team-mate Jamie Maclaren set the wheels in motion for his call-up by Australia.
Boyle qualifies for the Socceroos thanks to his father Graeme who was born in Sydney, but while aware of that fact he had kept it quiet.
But the arrival of Maclaren on loan from German outfit Darmstadt in January has finally resulted in him being named by new Aussie coach Graham Arnold for a training camp in the Middle East.
Boyle, however, won’t be able to play in a friendly against Kuwait which will wrap up that get-together, with the 25-year-old still waiting for his new passport to come through. But he has his fingers crossed the paperwork will be in place for him to hopefully make his international debut next month when the Australians play South Korea and Lebanon as their preparations for a defence of the AFC Asian Cup continue.
Boyle said: “The ball started rolling last season when Jamie came in and found out I was eligible to play. He was buzzing, more buzzing than I was because I never thought it would happen.
“Over the last few years I’ve not been wanting to come out and talk about it, but it’s happened all at once.”
For a brief spell Boyle looked as if he was about to become embroiled in an international tug-of-war. Australia coach Arnold met him during a flying visit to the club’s East Mains training ground while it was revealed Scotland boss Alex McLeish had wanted to take the player on the end-of-season tour to Peru and Mexico only for injury to rule him out of that trip. McLeish also spoke to Boyle but, disclosed the former Montrose and Dundee player, it was to tell him that he felt well covered in his position with the likes of Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser and James Forrest of Celtic ahead of him in the pecking order.
Revealing he had already more or less made up his mind to throw in his lot with Australia, Boyle said: “I was honoured by the call, but it just wasn’t to be. He was straight up with me, he said he was strong in that position and if I kept working hard... but the other talks went well and it swayed my decision.
“I appreciate Alex’s honesty, it’s not everyday the national manager phones you and says he is delighted with your progress but it’s not going to be a call-up. It’s a credit to myself that I received that call and I’m working hard.
“I also spoke to Graham, the chat was different. It did kind of make the decision at the end of the day, but it was good to speak to them both. The face-to-face meeting with Graham was good, it went really well, smoothly. He felt that he wanted me and that I wanted it at the same time and I didn’t want to let him down.”
Maclaren won’t be accompanying Boyle to Kuwait as he recovers from a back injury, but new team-mate Mark Milligan, a veteran of 71 caps and the finals of four World Cups, will provide a familiar face as he steps into a totally new environment, admitting he’ll be working hard to impress both Arnold and the other members of the Aussie squad.
He said: “It’s going to be a cut above, top range. There’s really good players in there and you need to take your game to a new level and I’m hoping to do that. It’s frustrating that I can’t play in the game but it’s good that he still wants me to go along and meet the boys and get the gist of things.
“The aim is to get the paperwork completed for the games next month, we are working hard on it.”