Let’s cut right to the chase – there’s one main player at Hibs that’s capable of creating against the bigger sides and that’s Martin Boyle.
He’s already shown that this season alone. His display against Rangers at Easter Road earlier this term saw him bag two assists. Unsurprisingly, both came from crosses into the penalty area.
Celtic, conveniently, have been struggling to deal with cross-balls all throughout the season. The likes of Nir Bitton, Shane Duffy, and Chris Jullien have at times been beaten too easily in the air, and that’s something Hibs will look to utilise with Christian Doidge up front.
However, Boyle, who so frequently stars against Celtic and Rangers at Easter Road, has an added motivation this week.
The Hoops never officially made an offer for the Australian international, but there has been plenty of talk in the past about a move for him to Glasgow. Neil Lennon had previously worked with the right-winger during his own spell at Hibs as manager.
Going back to January, the Scottish Sun claimed that Lennon would “love” to be reunited with Boyle, with Hibs looking for around £3m for his services.
Things went quiet before Kris Commons piped up with a ridiculously insulting suggestion. He stated that Celtic should’ve looked to bag him for £250k given he was into the final year of his contract, despite the fact a global health pandemic had been crippling Scottish football.
Indeed, Commons said in his Daily Mail column: “With just a year left on his contract, Boyle wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Especially not with the financial problems Hibs are facing. I reckon a bid of around £250k would be enough to at least ask the question of Hibs.”
No Celtic offer came for Boyle in 2020
Again, nothing came of it. Boyle signed his new contract and committed his long-term future to the Edinburgh club.
But if the player has any real ambition, the Celtic speculation would’ve whetted his appetite. He’ll know the best way to get Lennon’s attention once again will e to star against them in a glamour game in Leith this Saturday.
Hibs often attack through Boyle in any case, so they’ll look to get the ball to him when they can. It’ll be down to Celtic to shut that service down and ensure that he doesn’t manage to isolate Diego Laxalt/Greg Taylor.
Having it in the back of your mind that a good performance could reignite a potentially massive career move simply has to be Boyle’s motivation this weekend.
Granted, his stats aren’t exactly blistering. He may have nine direct goal contributions in 17 games this season, but three have come against lower league opposition. Indeed, since that September meeting with Rangers, Boyle has yet to add to his goals or assist tally in any of his five league games since.
He did bag two assists in last night’s win 4-1 hammering of Dundee though as he threatens to spark his season back into life (Transfermarkt).
Lennon will have to work on something this week to really combat the threat that Boyle poses, particularly at Easter Road, where six of his goal contributions have come from.
It’s going to be a big week in terms of our prep work. Here’s hoping the players all come back from the international break ready to get our domstic campaign back on track.