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Championship star's Ireland future still uncertain

Martin O’Neill says he doesn’t want to rush Brentford striker Scott Hogan into a decision.

Hogan has eight goals in 16 appearances for Brentford this season.
Hogan has eight goals in 16 appearances for Brentford this season.
Image: Adam Davy

THE INTERNATIONAL FUTURE of Brentford star Scott Hogan remains uncertain after Martin O’Neill was unable to give a definitive answer on the player’s status at today’s Ireland squad announcement press conference.

Hogan was born in Salford, but is eligible to represent the Boys in Green through his Irish-born grandparents.

He is understood to have declined recent advances from O’Neill, preferring instead to focus on his fitness, as the player continues to recover from a long-term injury that ruled him out for much of last season.

Such has been the extent of Hogan’s injury problems that he has played just 20 times for Brentford since joining in 2014, scoring 15 goals in the process.

This season, however, the 24-year-old striker has featured more consistently in the Championship, managing eight goals in 16 appearances.

The player has previously spoke in positive terms about the prospect of playing for Ireland, commenting just prior to the Euros last season: “If Roy Keane rang me up, I couldn’t say no to Roy Keane. He is one of my heroes.”

Speaking today, Martin O’Neill said he was hopeful the player would be available for Ireland’s next competitive fixture in March, but added that he did not want to rush the former Rochdale and Halifax forward into a decision.

“When I was speaking to his agent, he just wanted that bit of time in the international break because he hasn’t played an awful lot of games and he’s using that period to make sure his fitness is right up to scratch,” the Ireland boss said. “That’s fine, I’ve left that alone and we’ll revisit it after these games over the Christmas break.

I’m certainly going to be watching him and ultimately the player is the one who’s going to make the decision.

“I think after we played this game we don’t have a competitive game until March so there will be time to discuss it.”

Hogan would certainly be a welcome option — the current Ireland squad includes just four strikers, two of whom are over 30 with Adam Rooney the youngest at 28.

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Paul Fennessy

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