'You shouldn't have to go out of your way to try and persuade players to play for Ireland'

Keith Andrews feels English-born striker Scott Hogan should state his international intentions.

Andrews was speaking as Shiven Rovers celebrated being named Aviva FAI Club of the Year.
Andrews was speaking as Shiven Rovers celebrated being named Aviva FAI Club of the Year.
Image: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

FORMER IRISH INTERNATIONAL Keith Andrews believes Martin O’Neill shouldn’t have to convince in-form forward Scott Hogan to play for Ireland, even though the current squad is lacking striking options.

Manchester-born Hogan has scored 11 goals in last 14 appearances for Brentford, but the 24-year-old forward has delayed making a decision on whether he will play for the country of his grandparents, preferring to use the international break to rest following two long lay-offs with knee injuries.

“It’s an area of the pitch that we are looking for players, and he is a goalscorer – there’s no doubt about that. On current form, he is one of the best strikers in the Championship,” Andrews says.

“It is not a department that we have an abundance of riches at the moment, especially since Robbie Keane retired, and there are a few older players like Daryl Murphy and Jon Walters (both 33) in the squad.

“But I’m not in favour of trying to convince players. You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to try and persuade players to play for Ireland.

“You either want to play or you don’t,” the former Blackburn midfielder continued.

Source: Brentford Football Club/YouTube

Conor Hourihane, another highly-rated Championship player was included however, after the Cork-born midfielder claimed the division’s Player of the Month award for August, but Andrews thinks that the 25-year-old may have to bide his time to win his first cap.

“He’s a nice, technically-gifted player.

“I think he has come on leaps and bounds since he was given the armband at Barnsley, and now he is not just the scorer of spectacular goals.

“I’m not sure if he’ll get straight into the Irish team though, but he definitely deserves the recognition. I think we have a couple of options in midfield, there’s a nice blend with Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick, but he’ll eventually get into the team.”

Andrews, who won 35 caps for Ireland, is now part of the coaching team for the U17 and U18 national sides, after a spell last season as a first-team coach with MK Dons.

And the 36-year-old says he spent a period of last season scouting in-demand Dundalk winger Daryl Horgan, but with a number of wingers already at the club, they never made an offer for the Galway native, even though Andrews believes he can make a mark at that level.

“I watched him on a few occasions. When you’re with a club like MK Dons, you try to think outside of the box. I was impressed with him, he can make things happen.”

Dundalk v Legia Warsaw - UEFA Champions League Qualifying - Play-Off First Leg - Aviva Stadium Horgan has been one of Dundalk's standout players domestically and on the European stage. Source: Niall Carson

Ireland enter next month’s World Cup double header against Georgia and Moldova with confirmation that both Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have signed extensions to their contracts, but Andrews feels that they may not have as much talent at their disposal as they would have thought, when they first took their positions.

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“When they took over the job two years ago, they probably felt they had a bigger pool of players. I don’t think there are too many players out there that will have any qualms about not being included.

“It was a slow burner to start with, but Ireland deserved to qualify (for Euro 2016), and France will have to be described as a success.

“Some of the players in the first match against Serbia didn’t have a lot of club football behind them, but they showed determination to gain a point where other teams would have folded, but they will get better.”

Keith Andrews was speaking at Aviva’s Showcase Day to celebrate this year’s Aviva FAI Club of the Year, Shiven Rovers from Galway.

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