'It would be crazy...but we're not there yet' - Robinson hoping Euros can cap off dream season

The Sheffield United striker is playing at the level he has aimed for as the prospect of a major international tournament hovers into view.

Callum Robinson. (file photo)
Callum Robinson. (file photo)
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND ARE BACK in Georgia again, preparing themselves for a ninth meeting of the sides in 11 years. 

Ireland have never scored more than twice in Tbilisi, and Callum Robinson – a relative newcomer to this endlessly renewed fixture – preaches patience on how best to break the Georgians down. 

“You’ve got to try to move the defenders, and that’s key for any attacker, not just myself, but all the boys”, Robinson told reporters before flying out from Dublin. 

“If they sit, you’re going to have to try to bring them into areas that they don’t want to go, maybe into a pocket, but if they don’t come with you, then spin in behind.

“There’s going to be loads of stuff like that to try to break them down, stretch them, width, and all the boys know that – that’s why we’re playing at this level – how we’re going to break down teams because some teams do sit in and it’s going to be hard.

“But I think with the quality we have in the squad, we’ll create chances and we just have to take them when they come.”

Robinson can be confident in his own ability to do so. The last year has been his sharp rise – his eligibility was one of the few positives of Ireland’s desperate Nations League campaign, and he has now added the mantle of Premier League goalscorer beside his name having signed for Sheffield United. 

As with the case of a few of his Irish team-mates, that status was not easily earned. Robinson came through the youth ranks at Aston Villa – then in the Premier League – but had to drop to the lower divisions with Bristol City and Preston North End before clambering his way back to the top. 

“Now I look back, obviously I wasn’t ready to have a full season in the Premier League when I was 18″, said Robinson. 

“I learned a lot at Preston in the Championship and I feel those games have helped me massively to now be a regular in the Premier League, and now I would say I’m more ready than ever.” 

chelsea-v-sheffield-united-premier-league-stamford-bridge Robinson celebrates his goal against Chelsea. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Robinson has started all but one of Sheffield United’s first eight games, and scored away to Chelsea. He says the Premier League has taught him how better to find space – something which may of benefit to Ireland this afternoon. 

“I have learned a lot and I would say it’s definitely my movement, going off other players, now playing with Didsy [McGoldrick] a lot and Ollie McBurnie and players like that.

“Each game is different, so you can’t do the same type of movements every game, there are pockets that you have to go in to get on the half-turn, but them sometimes you might have to stretch them and get in behind, so only little bits.

“I think I’ve still kept how my career has gone from when I was younger, the same sort of attributes, but I think now it’s just learning when to do it and when not to and read the game a little bit more.

“How everyone is comfortable on the ball, so setting up to press, you can’t go running around like a headless chicken. You have to pick your times to press because everyone is comfortable on the ball, even goalkeepers now.

“Knowing that, save you energy for the right moments and when you do get your chance, you have to take it because you get one or two chances a game.” 

Robinson’s club-mate McGoldrick is out of today’s game, and it’s unclear yet as to who is most likely to take his place. Sean Maguire and James Collins are near the top of the queue, but McCarthy hasn’t ruled out using Aaron Connolly at some point over this double-header. 

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The Irish boss spoke of Connolly’s “personality” on the pitch this week, and Robinson testifies to his confidence away from it. 

“I don’t think he’s shy, and that’s why he’s probably done what he did at the weekend [against Tottenham] and what he’s done this season. That’s what gets you in as a young boy.

“You need to have that something different, a little bit of confidence, a little bit of belief in yourself that you deserve to be there, and that’s why I think he’s got into the first team at such a young age.

“You need that character or you can just go missing in games, so hopefully he can bring that this week and for the games.” 

 Two wins this week will secure Ireland qualification with a game to spare and although the squad and manager have stressed that they are not looking beyond the latest Georgia game, Robinson is allowing dreams occasionally intrude. 

“It would be crazy. I was just chatting to my friends the other day about it. It’s going back to pinching yourself as in as a kid, you always dream of being in the Premier League and going to Euros, World Cups, and at the moment, I’m living it.

“But we’re not there yet.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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