Hibernian manager Lee Johnson has admitted he ignored medical advice to hasten Martin Boyle’s return before the winger’s lookalike sent his team on the road to European redemption.
Boyle became a surprise starter when Hibs made amends against Inter d’Escaldes in a 6–1 return leg victory to set up a European Conference League third qualifying round match against Swiss club Lucerne.
The winger played just 45 minutes in pre-season against Blackpool on Saturday but made his first competitive appearance in nine months and scored his first two goals on his return with a serious knee injury.
Johnson said, “I believe in him and I believed he (will have an impact) because I saw him every day.
“I was just as disappointed as everyone else and last week I went against medical advice to play him at Blackpool with that game in mind.
“I had to wonder a little if it was desperation to put him on, but it’s more about team balance and what we need to be as elite as we were.
“It was necessary in a way, but he was also ready. On Tuesday, he passed all physical markers.
“He worked very hard and tried his best to advance early. We are very proud of him for how hard he worked, but I’m sure he will be very happy and will sleep well.”
Hibs overcame a shot from losing goaltender David Marshall with a tight hamstring in warm-up and then debutant Jojo Wallacott with an early-stage hip injury. Max Boruk came onto the field for his debut with little to nothing to do before conceding an impressive consolation goal late on.
By this point, the Hibs have well and truly banished the pain of last week’s 2-1 defeat in Andorra with a brace from Josh Campbell and goals from Christian Doidge and Eli Yuan.
Johnson added: “It was a tough game last week. Obviously we took on a lot of stick but we never lost faith and this performance showed it. There was no nervousness, the players were still confident, we played our own way.
“They are dangerous, they can play up to the big nine, they have two tricky wingers. We had to come forward and rip off their back four. That’s what we did and that’s why they couldn’t handle us.
“We broke their spirit early, which was key. Every man was in it.”