Hibs winger Martin Boyle admits Scotland manager’s honesty paved way for Australia switch

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Hibs winger Martin Boyle admits being told by Scotland manager Alex McLeish he was not in his plans gave him the push to pledge his international allegiance to Australia.

The 25-year-old, whose dad was born in Sydney, has been called up by Socceroos boss Graham Arnold for next week’s training camp in the Middle East but the paperwork will not be completed in time for Boyle to face Kuwait in the October 15 friendly.

A hamstring injury denied the player the chance to earn a place in Scotland’s much-maligned end of season two-game tour of the Americas.

And amid Australia stepping up their interest in the Aberdeen-born forward, McLeish called Boyle to let him know he had enough options on the right side of midfield and did not want to select him as a ‘cheerleader’.

That conversation was enough to convince Boyle, who has never been Down Under, that making himself available to Australia was the right decision.

Boyle said: “I spoke to Alex and said I was honoured by the call, but it just wasn’t to be.

“He wanted to bring me along but it came out in the papers that he said he didn’t want to bring me along as a cheerleader and he was straight up with me.

“It did kind of make the decision at the end of the day. Also, the other talks with Graham Arnold went well and that helped sway my decision.

“Alex said he was strong in the position. I appreciate his honesty and it’s not everyday that 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 credit to myself that I received that call and I’m working hard.”

Arnold

Australia boss Arnold recently travelled to Scotland to meet with Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and discuss Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani.

That also gave Boyle the chance to get together with the 55-year-old and the Hibs player liked what he had to say.

He added: “That 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.

“It’s a great opportunity with the side they are at the moment. They’re a good young side and thriving at the moment and it’s up to me to go in there and cement my place.”

Boyle admits he also has team-mate Jamie Maclaren, who has been left out of the Australia squad with a back complaint, to thank for laying the foundations for his inclusion.

He added: “It all started happening in January when Jamie first came in.

“He found out I was eligible to play and he was buzzing, and more buzzing than I was because I never thought it would happen but he went away and talked about it.

“Arnold said he knew the manager (Ange Postecoglou) before was interested but nothing came of it, but when he came in he took the chance.”

Deserved

Hibs manager Neil Lennon, whose side will attempt to close the gap on leaders and city rivals Hearts to two points with victory at home to Hamilton today, insists Boyle’s call-up is thoroughly deserved.

He added: “From where he was he has definitely been the most improved player I’ve seen in my time at Hibs.

“And he is a big, big asset in the way we want to play.

“He’s physically stronger and he has a lot more self-belief.

“He’s always had pace and good movement but I think there’s a lot more positivity in his game in terms of being more direct and his athleticism is fantastic.”

Lennon admits the player has been the target of light-hearted abuse in the changing room.

He added: “There has been a lot of mickey taking! He’s been the butt of a lot of jokes as you can imagine.

“There have been a couple of cans of Fosters been floating around the changing room, that kind of thing.

“Big Marv (Bartley) has got the bit between his teeth at the moment. It’s great.

“He and Big Marv are like Little and Large, they give each other pelters every day.

“With Martin being the type of kid he is, the players are all very happy for him.

“It’s a good story, a few years ago he was playing at Montrose, he has done his bit.

“The tough bit is staying there and getting into the Australia team on a regular basis.”

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