BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
MARTIN BOYLE insists he is willing to forgive John McGinn and Paul Hanlon for missing Hibs’ annual golf day – just this once.
If he continues to dazzle for the Easter Road outfit, Boyle may just allow himself to start dreaming of one day joining the Hibees contingent in the Scotland set-up.
Hanlon, who has been in superb form for the capital club this term, could stake his claim for the troublesome centre-half berth at international level if he makes his senior debut against The Netherlands at Pittodrie on Thursday night.
Indeed, the only downside to their recognition was that the pair missed the sight of Boyle hacking his way around Archerfield on Hibs’ yearly squad outing.
“It was a bit more quiet without John [McGinn] this year! He missed me coming out of retirement again,” smiled Boyle. “But I think we can let John and Paul [Hanlon] off with missing it, since they had a decent excuse.
“Paul has been absolutely fantastic this season and I think the call-up was overdue – he deserves it. John has been around the squad for a while now so hopefully he can really make that breakthrough to the team in this campaign coming up. It’s great for them, and superb for the club.”
Yet Boyle has arguably been Hibs’ most impressive performer during the run of four successive victories that has seen them roar to within two points of second-placed Aberdeen. He has found the net in his last three outings and utterly tormented Hearts in their recent Edinburgh derby victory.
At 24 years of age, the former Dundee ace has time on his side to nurse international ambitions of his own.
“It’s no harm if they [Scotland] are coming to watch John and Paul,” continued Boyle. “I always just keep my head down and work hard.
“This is my first really decent campaign in the Premiership and the gaffer has given me a really good run in the team – and I’m grasping that with both hands. I’ll just keep trying to perform well and, if anything more comes from that, then I’ll jump at that opportunity.
“If I keep doing what I’m doing, there might be [Scotland] talk, and that would be something beyond my wildest dreams.”
Hibs’ terrific form was highlighted this week when head coach Neil Lennon picked up manager of the month for October.
Boyle has nothing but praise for the Northern Irishman, who he concedes is continually hard to please – but always sends his side out with a license to thrill.
“The manager has given me the freedom to go out and play,” Boyle continued. “If I run down the line and lose the ball, then he tells me to try it another 50 times! He is a very attack minded manager and wants us to express ourselves.
“The gaffer is demanding, he’s a winner. At the start of the season he came out and said ‘we are going for second!’ That is just the way he is.
“He is a very hard man to please. Even when we win games, there are still things he is not satisfied with. However, that has been brilliant for the club and, personally, he has been great with me and given me a really good chance.”
A boyhood Dons fan, Boyle now has his sights firmly set on overhauling Aberdeen.
“Catching Aberdeen is realistic. They beat us at Easter Road but I didn’t think there was much between the teams,” Boyle added. “They just showed one moment of quality to open us up. But we have beaten Rangers, given Celtic two really good games and we know what we are up against in the league now.
“We are not here to make up the numbers. The first quarter was about getting a feel for the league and picking up some good results. Now know what we are really capable of and, if we keep injury free, then we can have a really good campaign.”