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Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 13 October, 2019
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'I got a bit of a fright actually, I was probably blind in one eye for about a week'

Sean Maguire is back in the Irish fold – and has been working with Robbie Keane to force his way back into the starting team.

Sean Maguire at Irish training today.
Sean Maguire at Irish training today.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

WITH DAVID MCGOLDRICK ruled out of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Georgia on Saturday, Sean Maguire is back among the Irish squad and jostling for inclusion.

It’s a timely opportunity as Maguire missed last month’s games with Switzerland and Bulgaria through a freak injury -  he briefly lost the sight in one eye having been belted in the face by a football in training. 

“I went to kick the ball in training, it ricocheted and hit me in the eye”, Maguire told reporters today.

“I got a bit of a fright, actually. I was probably blind in one eye for about a week. You’re at home and that’s what I was told, I was told to just rest for about two weeks.

“Obviously you’re sitting in the house and you think about all these freak things happening, and there were all sorts of things going through my head.

“It was frustrating to miss out on those two games, but I’m happy to be back involved now.” 

Manager Alex Neil described it as the “the most bizarre injury” he has ever seen, but its effects have now been shaken off and Maguire has picked up where he has left off. He has three goals in nine games so far this season, playing off the left of a Preston attack which is the highest-scoring in the Championship. They have made an extremely strong start to the season – they lie third after 11 games, a point from leaders West Brom. 

“It’s going well”, said Maguire. “We are the top goalscorers in the Championship this season, with the fewest chances created. I don’t normally give myself goals at the start of the season, but I want to get at least 15 goals this season.

“I’ve 30-odd games to reach that goal, and it’s looking good so far.” 

A more immediate goal for Maguire is to make an impact for Ireland. He has yet to score for his country, but feels his encouraging club form can help to remedy that fact. 

He speaks with frustration about his two appearances against Gibraltar in the campaign thus far, particularly the group opener at the blustery foot of the Rock. 

“Obviously, it was a frustrating game, the conditions didn’t help. But, at the end of the day, I’m a professional footballer and I’d back myself to do well and at least score a goal against, and no disrespect to a team like Gibraltar, but…obviously, the most important thing that day was the three points, it could easily have been a banana skin.

“But, personally, it was very frustrating, and even, the game at home against Gibraltar, I got half an hour. It was another frustrating game, another frustrating half an hour. But my form at that time at club level wasn’t great. At Preston last year, it was a very disappointing year for me. My goals tally wasn’t great.

Even my performances on the pitch weren’t up to scratch. But I think this season, I’ve been performing probably where I was when I was in my first year in Preston, even coming towards the end at Cork City. And I feel back to my best, really. Obviously, my performances of late with Preston, hopefully that can catch the manager’s eye with Ireland. Hopefully I’ll get another chance.

“It wasn’t the style of play or anything [that led to frustration away to Gibraltar.] It was just on a personal level. I think the surface in this room would probably be better than it was out in Gibraltar.

“And obviously, the wind and stuff like that. But I can’t be that as an excuse. I’m in the team to create chances and score goals and I didn’t do that against Gibraltar. But, if in any way possible, that I’ve an opportunity to make an impact in these couple of games, I think I can step up to the mark, because I think I’m in full flow of confidence at Preston. ”

Maguire has been working with Robbie Keane at training to further catch the eye. 

sean-maguire-arrives Sean Maguire arrives to face the media today. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Yesterday, after training, we stayed out for 15 minutes. He was telling me that 80 or 90 per cent of his goals were scored within the box, one touch, two touches. That’s something I aspire to and hopefully I can do better.

“I’ve scored three goals this season playing off the left. But, even just giving me tips here and there can only make me better.” 

While McGoldrick is out of the Georgia game, he may yet play a role as a substitute against Switzerland. Shane Duffy, meanwhile, is fit to travel with the Irish squad to Tbilisi for Saturday’s game. 

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Gavin Cooney

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