Tilio arrived in Doha on Tuesday, seemingly putting Boyle’s place not only against France in doubt – but potentially his entire World Cup dream.
Boyle has not taken the field since copping a blow to his right knee last month while playing for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League, and again failed to feature at the Socceroos’ training session on Tuesday evening, with Tilio taking his place.
The Socceroos remain adamant it is business as usual, but with less than a week before Australia’s opening fixture against France (Wednesday 6am, AEDT), time is running out for Boyle – and for Arnold, prompting Tilio’s belated call-up.
Under FIFA’s World Cup regulations, teams can replace an injured player, for a medical reason, up to 24 hours before their first game.
One of Australia’s premier attacking weapons, it would be an enormous blow to Arnold’s plans should the Scottish-born star succumb to the knee injury – with midfield ally Cameron Devlin suggesting Boyle would be a “massive loss” if unavailable, while stating the continued absence was ‘precautionary’.
“Obviously over the years everyone can see what a big player he is – he does it week in, week out over in Scotland for Hibs. He’s been a massive player for them and takes it into his country, for Australia,” said Devlin on Tuesday.
“He’d be a massive loss – but I think it’s just precautionary because we’ve got the first game in a week.
“But if he wasn’t to play he’d be a massive loss.”
Tilio, who represented the Olyroos at the Tokyo Games last year, was a tough omission from Arnold’s original 26-man squad – having featured during the qualification campaign.
Last week, Tilio’s Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo blamed “the hype” around the 21-year-old for his original omission.
“The hype hasn’t helped,” Kisnorbo said.
“Every week we get asked about Marco, it’s only normal that sometimes people listen.
“He’s young, he’s got a lot of World Cups, potentially, to be part of.
“This is a test of his career. I’m sure he’ll go through this and do himself proud and work harder and hopefully one day we’ll see him at a World Cup.”
That chance may come much sooner than expected.
Originally published as World Cup 2022: Socceroo Martin Boyle injury update, Marco Tilio called up as cover