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Hogan feels 'miles away' from Ireland squad despite scoring in Birmingham bow

The striker marked his debut with a goal on Saturday.

SCOTT HOGAN HOPES that his loan move to Birmingham City can put him in contention for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia.

Hogan made a temporary departure from Aston Villa for a third time last week, signing for their local rivals until the end of the season.

He made a swift impact at St Andrew’s by grabbing the equaliser as Birmingham came from behind to win 2-1 at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

birmingham-city-v-nottingham-forest-sky-bet-championship-st-andrews-trillion-trophy-stadium Scott Hogan pictured during his debut for Birmingham City on Saturday. Source: EMPICS Sport

The Championship fixture marked Hogan’s first start in over three months, after he had fallen out of favour while spending the first half of the season on loan at Stoke City.

The striker has eight senior Ireland caps to his name, five of which were awarded by Mick McCarthy in 2019. However, he was left out of the matchday 23 for Ireland’s final Group D fixture in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark in November.

The Boys in Green will hope to move a step closer to reaching this summer’s European Championships by getting the better of Slovakia in Bratislava on 26 March.

“I’ve probably dropped miles away from that at the minute, which is understandable,” Hogan told Birmingham Live when asked about his prospects of featuring in Ireland’s next outing.

“A few lads are doing well and the only way you can get back in is by regularly playing and scoring. I’ve got off to a good start [at Birmingham] and hopefully I can keep going. I always want to score in every single game I play in. I’m going to aim for that because I aim high and if I can get anywhere near that then I will be a happy man.

“Mick McCarthy is a great man, a top fella, and he texted me ‘good luck’ when I came here. In my head, I’m miles away from that squad now. I’ve dropped so far out of it but then he still takes the time to text you. A great man.”

Having scored 21 goals in 36 games for Brentford, Hogan was unable to maintain that goalscoring form after he moved to Aston Villa in January 2017. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Sheffield United, where he netted twice in eight appearances.

The 27-year-old needed just 42 minutes to open his account as a Birmingham player, however, as his close-range finish cancelled out Tiago Silva’s opener for Forest. A 74th-minute goal from Kristian Pedersen sealed a win that moved the Blues up to 17th place. 

“It is always nice to get off to a good start,” Hogan said. “It’s just about the three points really but the reason I came here was to play games regularly. I’ve lost a bit of my reputation and it hurts. The only thing I can do is play and score and thankfully I’ve done that.”

Reflecting on his recent struggles, Hogan said: “I had a couple of injuries but I just never got going [at Aston Villa], found it difficult. There were a number of things that went on but it is what it is. I’m paying the price for that in the sense that I’m not really talked about anymore. I used to be talked about pretty much every other day when I was at Brentford.

“It is what it is and the only way I can do that is play regularly and score because I’ve always proved throughout my career that. If I play regularly, I’ll score goals. Even at Villa, I got a regular run of games in the second season and managed to get six or seven goals in a few games but then I fell out of the team again.

“Regular games means regular goals for me. I think I got three goals in about six starts [at Stoke] but I just never played regularly and I still don’t know the reason. It’s not in my hands and I think if I had played there, I’d have score more.”

scott-hogan Hogan has been capped eight times by Ireland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Salford-born striker feels that his loan move to Birmingham could make or break his prospects of experiencing the Premier League, something he has yet to do despite playing for two clubs last season who went on to achieve promotion from the Championship.

He said: “It’s probably the last chance, to be honest. If I don’t get this right, I’m probably going to be in and around the Championship for the rest of my career and that’s if I’m lucky. It’s probably my last chance to push on and get to where I want to be.

“I spoke to the manager, he plays three up front and he wants me and the big man [Lukas Jutkiewicz] to play every game until the end of the season. That is brilliant. That’s all I ever wanted. A confident Scott Hogan will score plenty of goals. That is what I need to get back.

“At Brentford I got about 24-25 goals in 30 games and there was talk of big moves to the Premier League and they fell through. I ended up going to Villa on the last day of that transfer window and ever since then I’ve just fallen away. I’ve got to put that right.

“I’m 27, I should be coming to my peak. I’ve got to put it right because I know I can do it in this division. I believe I’m good enough to play higher and the only way I can do that is remind everyone that I’m still here and I can still do what I do best.

“Hopefully a few goals here might get me to a team fighting to get there. I don’t know but I’ve got to aim high. I won’t be happy if I finish my career and have never played in the Premier League.”

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Paul Dollery

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