Regular readers will be well aware that I support the policy of building our team around a handful of talented Scottish players.
Reports in the media this week have linked us to two players in the SPL, the Motherwell midfielder Liam Donnelly and the Hibs winger Martin Boyle. I understand one of these but not the other. Donnelly isn’t Scottish; he was born in Dungannon and spent much of his early career – too much of it – in England.
He would never count as a “home grown” player, and I reckon there are better options out there. If we hadn’t signed Soro I could see the logic in bringing him in as a backup, but he wouldn’t get into our midfield right now. Not so with the other player.
Martin Boyle would provide good cover on the right. He is still only 26, in spite of playing professional football for more than a decade. He is a winger, but he’s also played as a striker. He is Scottish, would count as one of our domiciled players, and would not cost the earth.
The manager knows him and rates him highly. But is he good enough for Celtic?
Boyle has spent the better part of his career thus far at Hibs. We have no idea whether he’s good enough to play at a higher level or not because he hasn’t chosen to do it yet. He’s had offers at times, but he’s shown loyalty to the Easter Road club.
He is a settled, family man, who doesn’t have Billy Big Time Syndrome … and he scores important goals.
When Celtic is signing a player we take several things into account.
As we’re an SPL club the first question is relatively straightforward; is that player good enough to perform week in, week out, at the SPL level? Boyle has answered that question time and time again; he certainly is. The greater question is whether or not he can make the step up to play at our level.
The last 18 months of his career have been the quietest, as he has struggled back from an injury.
Were it not for that, I think he’d have left Hibs already for a club down south.
Prior to last season, he was a consistent performer; once he was firmly established in their team he played 33 in 2015 as they struggled in the Championship, 43 games in their promotion campaign and 42 times as an SPL player in season 2017-18, where he scored six goals.
At Easter Road he functioned mostly as a winger; Celtic would play him as an inside forward, which is a totally different role.
Still, I suspect he would do well in it.
If Boyle is available for the right money – there is no way we would pay crazy-style cash for him – then this would be a reasonable squad purchase. The only real issue would be Maryan Shved; we’d be pretty much writing him off as a signing.
Lennon said he trained well in Dubai, but two games have been played since we came back and he didn’t even make the squad in either of them. Perhaps that one just hasn’t worked out, and even if we’re not ready to cut our losses there’s an argument to be made for sending him out on loan.
And in those circumstances, Boyle would be a very decent option, someone reliable, who could do us a turn.
I can understand this one. As a squad signing, he’d do fine.