Socceroos winger Martin Boyle has succumbed to a knee injury, ruling him out of Graham Arnold’s World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament opener.
- Boyle suffered a knee injury with his club Hibernian on October 16 in the Scottish Premiership
- 21-year-old Marco Tilio of Melbourne City comes into the squad as an injury replacement
- Boyle has yet to play for Australia in a major tournament after missing the 2019 Asian Cup through injury
“We all feel for Martin and it is a cruel blow for him on the eve of the World Cup,” coach Graham Arnold said in a statement.
“He has been an integral part of our journey to get to Qatar and we thank him for everything he has given the Socceroos during this campaign.”
Melbourne City’s Marco Tilio, who was flown in as cover in case Boyle failed to respond to treatment in time, has come into the squad.
Hibernian player Boyle suffered the injury on October 16 in a Scottish Premiership match and has not played since.
Arnold said the Hibs’ medical staff had done “everything possible” to ensure he would be able to take the field.
“He will be back and we can’t wait to see him in the green and gold again next year,” Arnold said.
The Scotland-born attacking weapon, eligible to represent Australia via his father, had been a key part of Arnold’s plans.
He has scored five goals in 19 appearances for Australia since making his debut in 2018 and played in June’s playoff victory over Peru.
Prior to his injury, he had scored five goals and provided an assist for Hibernian in his 12 premiership appearances in Scotland.
Graham Arnold told reporters in Qatar that Boyle would remain with the squad.
The devastating news is depressingly familiar for the 29-year-old, who was also cruelly denied the chance to play at the 2019 Asian Cup — a knee injury the culprit on that occasion as well.
Boyle’s heartbreak does mean that 21-year-old Tilio has a chance to impress at his first World Cup.
The five-time capped player is yet to score for the Socceroos, but has scored twice in six appearances for ladder-leading Melbourne City in the A-League Men’s competition.
The Socceroos face defending champions France on Wednesday morning at 6:00am AEDT.