Back in the Irish squad after a freak eye-injury kept him out of the last set of qualifiers, Preston striker Sean Maguire is keen to finally kick-start his international career.
Maguire has been capped six times for the Boys in Green, but has yet to find the net for his country and hasn’t been able to emulate lively form at club level on the international stage.
This season, he has scored three and created three predominantly from the left-hand side for North End and could find himself in with an opportunity of starting against Georgia with David McGoldrick a doubt and James McClean also said to be carrying a knock.
“I think this season,” began Maguire, “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.
“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.”
The 25-year-old has only started two games for Ireland so far, with the most recent coming in the 1-0 win over Gibraltar in March – a game in which Maguire and Ireland struggled against one of European football’s minnows.
The striker would have seen the game as the perfect opportunity to open his Irish account and although Maguire admitted that he didn’t feel it was “an opportunity missed” he outlined that it was an incredibly frustrating evening for him personally.
“I don’t feel it was an opportunity missed,” he explained.
“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.”
The win over Gibraltar was Mick McCarthy’s first game back in charge and the performance was a worrying start for the former Ipswich boss.
Since that game however Ireland have continued their unbeaten start and currently sit top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group, knowing that two positive results in the week will be a massive boost to their qualification hopes.
Maguire continued to reflect on the challenges of that game in Gibraltar and explained that he is still confident in his own ability to score and create chances should he be given his opportunity over the course of the next two qualifiers.
“It wasn’t the style of play or anything. 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, 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.
“I know I’ve been playing off the left, I think I’ve only started one game up front and that was the first game of the season. But I’ve been really enjoying it. Playing off the left, playing up front, even playing in goal, I’ll give it 110 per cent.”