Seven first-teamers were absent from the Easter Road squad for Friday’s 2-1 friendly victory over Dutch side Groningen but while some could be in contention to face the Andorrans later this week, the Australian internationalist won’t be risked to avoid the potential of further setbacks.
“He’s very close, and he’s doing fantastically well,” Johnson explained. “But it’s just the strength he needs to make sure matches up. He’s just not ready in terms of the markers he has to hit. He’s champing at the bit, but we’ve just got to hold onto him for another week or so.”
Whether or not Boyle is involved in the return leg in Edinburgh on August 3 remains to be seen, with Johnson reluctant to make a call either way. But the Hibs boss did stress the importance of ensuring the 30-year-old is in peak condition for the league season which starts at home to St Mirren three days later.
“I feel sorry for him because he’s training really well but it’s just the chaos of a competitive fixture that is the risk. There’s a bit more control in training because people don’t smash into him, they know to look after their mate but the chaos of a competitive game is just a little bit risky.”
Johnson also gave an update on four other players; two of whom featured in a 60-minute, behind-closed-doors game against the Dutch side at HTC on Saturday morning and have a chance of facing Inter.
“Joe Newell played on Saturday for 30 minutes; Lewis Miller as well. They could force their way in. There’s definitely a chance that both of those could feature in the squad. Ewan Henderson’s not quite at that stage yet and Jordan Obita has a myofascial tear; it’s not a long injury but you’ve got to let it heal. He was the furthest behind of all of our players because he had such a long off-season. Could he play [against Inter Club d’Escaldes]? I don’t think he knows and we don’t know yet. So I would probably say 70-30 against on that one.”