It’s been a tough few months for Irish striking duo Sean Maguire and Scott Hogan. Between injuries and selection issues neither have been able to garner any sort of momentum in an Irish shirt.
With both back fit and firing, they’re keen to grab their chance at claiming a striking position that has been a thorn in Ireland’s side since the retirement of Robbie Keane.
The pair spoke of their intent to put their injury trouble behind them and compete for a place at the of the apex of the Ireland team.
“It’s been a frustrating year. Sitting down here last year, I didn’t really have injuries – a year later, I’ve had two. Hopefully, I’ve put it behind me now and can kick on for club and country”, Maguire said.
“There’s an opportunity for a place in the starting XI, especially this weekend with two very important games.”
“Yeah, I’m similar to Seanie. A lot went wrong. I’ve been training for five-to-six weeks. I’ve been fit, but I haven’t been selected for whatever reason when I have been back fit.
“It’s been a long time. I came on the first game pre-season, got my injury. That set me back, I was treated, I’ve been back fully training. I just have to play football now.”
When asked about trying to fill the boots of all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane, both Maguire and Hogan remained coy.
“We haven’t had that goalscorer since Robbie Keane left. I don’t think we will ever fully replace him, given the number of goals he has scored for his country. I feel there is an opportunity for one of the four new lads coming in to stake a claim for a jersey,” Maguire said.
“If I get the opportunity hopefully I do step up to the plate and play a crucial part, if that’s coming off the bench or from the start of the game, we’ll see what happens.”
“It’s difficult, obviously. When someone [Keane] scores that many goals, it’s a hard act to follow. You’ve just got to do what you can, believe in what you’re good at.
“You’ve just to concentrate on yourself. What’s gone is gone. He is a hard act to follow, maybe impossible to follow, but you just have to take each game as it comes and hopefully get halfway near the level someone sets.”
Hogan also revealed his excitement at the names being linked with the vacant role of manager at Aston Villa.
“They’re huge names in football, but at the minute, there’s no one there. We’ve just got to crack on with it until somebody gets appointed. But to be linked with those sort of people, for me personally, is huge.
“To have the chance to work with Thierry Henry, probably the greatest Premier League striker, and obviously JT [John Terry] played for us last year, probably the best Premier League defender ever. So nothing’s been confirmed yet, but the club Aston Villa, we know the size of it, these names are going to be linked to us.
“Obviously, whoever comes in, we’re looking at picking up the season basically and trying to finish as high as we can.”