Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery has no worries about fielding Australia pair Martin Boyle and Lewis Miller against Celtic on Wednesday – less than a week after their Asian Cup disappointment.
Attacker Boyle started last Friday’s agonising 2-1 quarter-final defeat by South Korea in Qatar while right-back Miller came on as a substitute while his side led 1-0, conceded a stoppage-time penalty and then also gave away the free-kick that led to their opponents’ extra-time winner.
While city rivals Hearts have allowed Australian pair Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles the rest of this week off to recover, Hibs will pitch their Socceroos duo straight back into action at home to the cinch Premiership leaders as they bid to bounce back from Saturday’s humiliating 3-0 defeat by St Mirren.
“If you know anything about Martin Boyle and Lewis Miller, you’ll know they just want to get back playing football,” Montgomery said on Tuesday.
“Martin has scored his first goal at a major tournament, he’s been away for six weeks, so you want someone like him back in the team.
“Lewis has been a starting player who has had a real quick acceleration in the international team.
“When I came here, he wasn’t in the Hibs team, he became a regular and got himself into the international set-up. A lot has happened to him in the space of six months.”
Miller, 23, has been criticised in his homeland for his part in Australia being eliminated from the tournament.
“It was a really difficult moment for Lewis,” said Montgomery. “Anybody who knows the game knows that, in big moments, players can make mistakes.
“Lewis is a great kid, he has confidence, but that’s going to affect anybody. The most important thing is that we’ve given him our support since he came back.
“I’ve spent time talking to Lewis and putting my arm around him because he really has to move forward now. Nobody is more disappointed than Lewis with what happened, but he’s back here now with the boys who love him and support him.”
Montgomery has also been the subject of criticism in recent days following Hibs’ biggest home defeat by the Buddies since 1985. The Edinburgh club have taken just two points from their last six league matches.
“I understand the expectations of the club and the fans,” he said. “I understand the frustration of the fans because no one was more frustrated with the result than me.
“Pressure comes with any job, especially at a club like Hibs. I accepted the challenge when I took the job knowing there would be a rebuild going on, but change takes a bit of time. It’s not easy, and we’re in a bit of transition.
“I know where the club is heading in the big picture, but right now I understand the need to get a bit of form back.”