Martin Boyle is in line to get his first minutes back with the Subway Socceroos against Mexico on Sunday, targeting an illusive international tournament.
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When Boyle discovered he had been carrying an injury for up to seven years, that has ended many a career, just days after stepping off the plane ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, it shocked the system.
Boyle had been tipped as an essential part of Graham Arnold’s plans for the Middle-Eastern tournament, but a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament meant this was impossible.
This was the second time he missed out on a tournament with Australia, following his withdrawal from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup squad with another knee injury.
However, less than a year on since then, the goalscoring winger is set to retake the field for Australia and is only looking forward.
“I can't be going into games worrying about injuries that have happened in the past,” Boyle said during a press conference.
“I've worked extremely hard, and I feel like I've got a bit of strength in me. My legs are a bit stronger than they were before, which is great.
“So let’s hope that doesn't happen again, and that can stay fit and healthy.”
The Scottish-born attacker detailed the mental exhaustion of returning to the pitch with a repetitive rehabilitation process giving way to boredom.
“People don't really see behind the scenes. And it's different when you're on camera, and you've got a smile on your face. It wasn't all happy smiles, I did have some tough days,” he said.
“When you're watching the lads train every day, and you're inside yourself, it can be a lonely place.”
Boyle appreciated the Australian team physios' role in getting him back on the pitch, constantly checking in with him along the way, and personally visiting him.
Despite the arduous recovery process, Boyle singled out the impact of his family in helping him through those challenging moments.
He explained that he gained perspective during the long road to playing again.
"I've got two young daughters," he said.
"When I'm having a tough day, and I can go home and see the smile on their face, it opens your eyes and that aspect of things, which is great.
"It's been a long process, but when you've when you've got little gems like that at home that can put a smile on your face any day, then it's fantastic."
Before Qatar, defender Harry Souttar had suffered a similar injury and was in a race against time to get fit for the tournament.
Souttar made the cut and was one of the standout defenders of the tournament, a story Boyle took inspiration from.
In his conversations with Souttar, Boyle said the stalwart defender urged him to take his time with the rehabilitation, which proved valuable.
"I'm quite impatient when it comes to stuff like that," he said.
"I get quite excited when I hear good news. So to remain patient was the most important thing, and pass all my tests and take it seriously."
The 30-year-old also mentioned coach Graham Arnold's impact during his recovery from injury, highlighting the ‘fantastic relationship’ he has with the national team boss.
“I'm really proud that he's my coach,” Boyle said.
“What he's done for me over the last few years has been incredible, and I’m forever thankful to him. The only thing I can do is repay that faith on the pitch.
“His door's always open to chat, and he's always on the other end of the phone.
“It's great to have that trust for someone.”
Boyle will finally get the chance to get back on the pitch for Socceroos on Sunday against Mexico and re-establish himself as a regular for Arnold.
With plenty of fresh faces in the squad, Boyle can put his marker down at Dallas' AT&T Stadium for upcoming tournaments, in what he’s expecting to be a competitive match.
“They'll be in our faces, and they won't give us a yard,” he said.
“When we get on the pitch and tactically set up and find out their weaknesses, hopefully we can exploit them.
“We’re really looking forward to it. They’re a good side, and they’ve got a good ranking at the moment, but we want to go there and ultimately win the game.”