Stoke City and Ireland striker Scott Hogan has spoken candidly on his recent struggles for both club and country admitting that he didn’t feel as though he deserved to be in the squad for the upcoming games against Georgia and Switzerland.
Hogan joined Stoke from Aston Villa on loan in the summer and despite finding the net in his second league appearance for the club, both he and The Potters have struggled this season, with Nathan Jones’ side sitting bottom of the Championship and the striker failing to nail down a spot in the starting XI.
The 27-year-old scored to give Stoke a vital three points against Swansea last weekend but the move has been largely frustrating for Hogan, who is still looking to rebuild his career after a disastrous spell at Aston Villa.
Hogan was a big money signing for Villa from Brentford in 2016, but only managed to find the net ten times in 61 appearances, with the club also loaning him out on two occasions.
At Brentford, Hogan created a buzz around his name with plenty of clubs interested in his services before the move to Villa and the striker outlined that his goal at Stoke is to try and reignite that hype and find a home for himself after a couple of difficult years.
“I had two years or so at Villa which, being honest, were terrible from my point,” Hogan told reporters.
“It was as bad as it gets I think, but that is what it is, you’ve got to move on but I just want to play consistent football now.
“The more I play the more I score, I back myself to do that so if I can get somewhere where I’m going to play regularly then that’s great for me, because when I play regular football, I tend to score goals throughout my career.
“It’s just about nailing a spot down now in the team and scoring the goals to get us up the table, whatever it maybe. Hopefully, who knows going forward, maybe create a nice little home there for myself, do well, score goals again, you know maybe get bit more of a buzz back, back for my name. Since going to Villa, it’s gone pretty much.
“I’ll be honest, it is about finding a home. I’m hoping, I’m hoping because it’s close to home as well, I can find a home there.”
Hogan’s difficulties at club level also bled over to his Irish career, and during Martin O’Neill’s reign he found himself frequently on the subs bench only making three appearances during the former manager’s tenure.
Under Mick McCarthy, Hogan has made two starts and come off the bench on two occasions – being on the pitch as Ireland rescued precious points against both Denmark and Switzerland.
He has however failed to find the net for his country and Hogan was equally as honest in assessing his performances for the Boys in Green outlining that he feels like he hasn’t hit his stride yet at international level.
“I’ve been limited to substitute appearances more and I started two games out of three of the friendlies, the first one I should have scored. I played against Gibraltar, I had chances to score, it’s just not gone in yet and it’s not happened. There’s no getting away from that.
“I set myself high standards and I don’t think I’ve hit them, nowhere near at international level. I expect to score goals every time I step on the pitch. I’ve had two friendlies and the Gibraltar game where I expected to score in every game and I didn’t. I don’t like that. Maybe I have effected the games that I’ve come in and that’s why maybe I’m still in the squad.”
Hogan continued by making the stark admission that he didn’t even think he’d be in this Irish squad given his lack of recent game time at strugglers Stoke.
“I didn’t expect to be in the squad,” began Hogan.
“My standards are high of what I expect of myself and I expect to score, and I’ve not scored but if the manager is happy with my contribution, I’m happy with that.
“I hadn’t been involved at all for Stoke, bottom of the Championship, who’d pick me? You know what I mean. I ended up in it, so I must have been doing something right for the boss. “
The striker admitted that his confidence was shot for a long time, but his winning goal at the weekend against Swansea will have given him a tremendous boost, as he looks to get off the mark for his country.
Hogan also told a story of how he came to be in the Stoke squad for the game against Swansea after the striker aired his grievances to the club’s Head of Sports Science, Jared Roberts-Smith.
“I hadn’t been in the squad for four or five games maybe. I hadn’t been coming on for another four games before that, and the squad was named and he (Roberts-Smith) pulled me to one side, and just asked me, what I was thinking, what I was feeling.
“I said a few things to him and then 10 minutes before the bus was leaving, the manager pulled me into the office and said, ‘you know Jared (Roberts-Smith) came over to me and said you’ve said this to him,’ and I said, ‘yeah I’ve said that.’
“So he’s slammed his hand on the table and was like, you can’t use the language but get on the bus, get your gear, you’re travelling. Then obviously I was on the bench but I came on and scored. I had a little go at him, it worked out.”
With David McGoldrick missing for Saturday’s game in Tbilisi, the number nine jersey in up for grabs, and Hogan will be hoping he can be the man to take up the mantle for what could be a massive test for the Boys in Green.