Sunday, August 14, 2022
SportHibsHibs boss on Martin Boyle latest and Hearts’ gap claim 

Hibs boss on Martin Boyle latest and Hearts’ gap claim 

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson admits he wants to bring Martin Boyle back to the club, but concedes any move would be ‘complex’.

The winger is open to returning to Scotland following seven months in Saudi Arabia with Al Faisaly.

Boyle made the £3 million move to the Middle East in January but was unable to help his club avoid relegation from the top-flight, with that demotion triggering a drop in his wages.

Hibs manager Lee Johnson.
Lee Johnson (Photo by Hibs TV)

Hibs have struggled for penetration in the final third since the 29-year-old’s departure and Johnson has already admitted that he is looking to recruit another forward, especially with Aidan McGeady facing up to three months on the sidelines with a knee ligament tear.

Boyle – a member of the Hibs team that won the 2016 Scottish Cup – is a hugely popular figure among the club’s supporters.

Despite leaving at the turn of the year, Boyle still finished last season as Hibs’ top scorer with 16 goals, including a memorable hat-trick in last November’s League Cup semi-final win over Rangers.

Johnson, who is preparing his team for Sunday’s Edinburgh derby against Hearts following last weekend’s win over Ross County in the Premiership curtain raiser, said: “We know all about Boyle, obviously.

“He’s a good lad, a good player and the club loved him in terms of personality but also in terms of his footballing ability.

“I would like to add another forward player to the group, but it’s a complex deal.

“Whether or not it’s possible, I honestly don’t know. Of course, if it was possible, we’d be very interested.”

Asked directly if discussion had taken place, Johnson, speaking to Sky Sports, added: “I think it’s a maybe. There would be a will to do it if it was possible.

“But like I say, we’re not in control of it because he’s another club’s player at the moment.

“Although if that was an option that could be explored, we would be very keen to explore it.”

Johnson, meanwhile, admits he wants Hibs to ‘bridge the gap’ on Hearts following contrasting season’s last term.

Johnson, who was a team-mate of Hearts boss Robbie Neilson during his six months in Tynecastle in 2006, inherited a Hibs side this summer that ended up 16 points worse off than their rivals, who finished third.

Hearts also beat Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi-final, while the Leith side have not won any of the last four derbies – the Tynecastle side emerging victorious in four.

Johnson said: “We were too far off last year, statistically, with all the data we look at.

“We’ve got to try and bridge the gap, it’s a big test for our squad but I believe we’re in a good place, we’ve got threats, two contrasting styles in terms of playing philosophy but I think it will lend itself to a really good game.

“We do believe we can beat Hearts, we work hard to perform, to be fit, to be organised, to be cohesive.

“When you step over that white line that’s when you have to produce.

“The best players can bring their best when it matters most and it is going to matter most on Sunday, there is no doubt about that.

“I’m looking forward to it, I really am. I’m well versed, if you like, in the pressure of big games.

“If we get good support from the terracing, like we have so far, I believe we can take the game to them.”

Both teams go into the clash on a high after winning their opening Premiership games of the season.

Johnson added: “It’s a big game, second game in the league and it’s part of the season I came up here.

“It should be a big atmosphere, it was nice to get a win on the first day and we have to make sure we perform really well.

“There is early positivity for both teams and that passion I’m sure will come out. “It builds to that crescendo that is an important derby and we won’t shy away from that. It’s a big game for both clubs.”

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