Maguire played in Sunday's friendly against Celtic in Glasgow. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Keane: 'Younger players need to be given a bit of breathing space'

Martin O’Neill’s assistant is disappointed Sean Maguire won’t be involved next week, and says it took him 20-25 international games to find his feet.

ONE OF THE notable absentees from yesterday’s Ireland squad announcement for the upcoming friendly matches against France and the US was Sean Maguire.

Having made his senior international debut against Moldova last October, the 24-year-old Preston North End striker is a player fans are hoping can earn a regular place in Martin O’Neill’s team.

The former Cork City star enjoyed a promising start to life in the Championship last season, although he missed a substantial chunk of the campaign through injury.

Maguire featured in last Sunday’s friendly game with Celtic, but he has picked up a hamstring problem and won’t be involved in next week’s matches.

“We’re short of options in terms of strikers because of the injuries and he’ll be disappointed,” Keane said of the former Cork City striker.

“He has had a strange season, Seani, in the sense that he got a good move and was scoring goals, but he had a bad hamstring injury when he was getting back into it. We’re disappointed, but if it’s a minor injury then it’s not the end of the world.

“We’d rather he missed one or two friendly matches rather than bigger games coming up at the start of next season. We’re disappointed he’s not here but that’s the game.”

Declan Rice Alan Browne, Declan Rice, Daryl Horgan and Callum O'Dowda today. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The squad heading to Paris to take on France on Sunday has experience in the likes of Seamus Coleman, Jon Walters, James McClean and Shane Long, but there are also several players aiming to establish themselves in the Ireland set-up.

Keane accepts that they are unlikely to show their full promise straight away, and on Thursday asked for patience from fans and the media.

“It’s difficult when you step into international football,” he added. “I felt even in my own career when I was playing at a decent level, it probably took me 20-25 games at international level before I found my feet. So we also shouldn’t be looking at these young lads and expecting miracles from them.

Let them learn their trade. Obviously, we want them to be playing at the highest level whatever country they’re playing in and when they come and play for Ireland, give them a bit of a chance.

“When I look at the young players coming through, players maybe new to the international scene – the Turkey game being a prime example – I’d be looking more at the senior players helping them more than anything else.

“Sometimes it’s the senior players who disappoint you more than the younger players, so these younger players need to be given a bit of breathing space. They need to see good examples around them, around the hotel, how you train — people like Seamus Coleman – to help the ones new to international football. We need to give them a bit of a break.”

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