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Socceroos call in stand by players as cover for injured star Martin Boyle

The Socceroos have flown a standby player into Qatar in a move that casts further doubt over the fitness of star winger Martin Boyle.

A week out from Australia’s opening match against France, Melbourne City midfielder Marco Tilio has joined Graham Arnold’s 26-man squad in a surprise development that suggests Australian officials are seeking a bit of an insurance policy.

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The move comes as Boyle’s fitness comes under the microscope, with the Scottish-born star failing to train over the past two days as he continues his rehab from an unexpected knee injury.

Teams have 24 hours to replace players unable to compete due to injury or COVID-19 under FIFA rules.

Boyle is viewed as one of Arnold’s most potent attacking weapons, with the wingman scoring five goals in 19 appearances for the Socceroos.

A knee injury in Hibernian’s 3-0 win over St Mirren last week threw Boyle’s plans into chaos ahead of the tourrnament. And even though he was cleared by his Scottish club, Tilio’s arrival likely confirms Boyle is no certainty to be fit for the World Cup.

“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,” midfielder Cameron Devlin said.

“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.”

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