There has been talk over the last few days on reasons why Ireland have not been producing in front of goal the past couple of competitive games.
Ireland’s failure to do so has put them in a very unfavourable position to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year, with Martin O’Neill’s side needing to pick up six points from their final two games and hoping for results to go their way in other groups.
Another decision what also baffled fans was O’Neill not including Preston striker Seán Maguire who dropped from the squad after it was cut down from 39 players.
Maguire had 24 goals for Cork City before his move to England in July of this year, but instead O’Neill stuck with Southampton and Nottingham Forest strikers Shane Long and Daryl Murphy with Long not scoring a competitive goal since February of this year, while Murphy has only scored once for his country back in the first game against Serbia in August 2016.
Fans of the League of Ireland once again think that it’s snobbery once again for the management team for a player who has been on fantastic form for Cork but decide to go with the same faces and not freshen it up.
Yes, you could argue that he doesn’t have the experience but the Kilkenny native red-hot form should have been worthy of a call up especially with the lack of goals that Ireland have been scoring recently three goals in the last five competitive games is nowhere near good enough if you want to qualify for a major tournament.
People may argue that the League may not be good enough to judge a player for international status which I personally think is wrong, if you’re playing well banging in the goals why should you be ignored because you’re playing in a league that is not watched by thousands every week like the Premier League?
Do we still have the “Magic Plane” mentality that are national players need to be playing their trade in the likes of the Premier League and Championship to be worthy of a call-up? looks like the management does.
The former Cork City player has something most of the strikers we got currently lack, a player with an eye for goal someone not afraid to shoot from far out, someone able to do something out of the ordinary, his hat-trick’s against champions Dundalk and Levadia Tallinn in the Europa League made everyone take notice of him giving him the recognition he deserves.
Of course people will be saying that they were against sides around Cork’s level but it showed that he is playing with confidence and belief in him-self 36 goals in 45 games is no fluke, something which the strikers that are currently in the squad are not playing with and is obvious for everyone to see looking at the recent goal stats over the last three to five competitive games.
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You also have to ask yourself the question why O’Neill was so reluctant to watch Maguire to see what he is all about only going to watch the former City striker twice, with the hat-trick against Dundalk being one of the games that he went to see which probably changed his opinion on the young forward slightly.
You have to wonder if O’Neill is serious about the prospect of blending in Maguire to the squad and that he’s only putting him the provisional squad to make it look like that he is keeping tabs on a player who could offer a lot more to the side compared to Daryl Murphy or David McGoldrick.
O’Neill has gone on to say that he step-up from League of Ireland level to International is obviously pretty big and your average League of Ireland will not deny this, but are we really going to know if he’s good enough or not if he does not get a chance in the green jersey? of course not.
It will be a risk if the Irish manager threw him against Serbia last Tuesday night but it would have been one worth taking with The Boys in Green chasing that game for the majority of the second half, a game which I think personally Maguire’s level would have been seriously tested.
We are never going know how he would have fared in an environment like that unless given the chance to showcase what he really he has, I personally think that his goalscoring instinct that he does have would have suited perfectly for chasing the equaliser against Serbia on Tuesday and would have been a good feeling seeing a fresh face getting the opportunity in an important game like the one just a few days ago.
As for Maguire’s development he’s going to improve by the week playing championship football under Alex Neil at Preston three out of the five games played this season starting two of them.
Hopefully for Maguire he can continue his goal scoring exploits for Preston like he did for Cork over the summer months and finally give O’Neill a good reason to let him break into the Irish squad.