Sean Maguire is confident there are still goals in the Republic of Ireland squad after Mick McCarthy’s frontmen drew another frustrating blank.
The Republic scrapped their way to a 2-0 Euro 2020 qualifier victory over Gibraltar in Dublin on Monday evening, but had to rely on a Joseph Chipolina own goal and a late header from Robbie Brady to get them over the line.
On a night when manager Mick McCarthy handed first David McGoldrick, Scott Hogan and Callum Robinson, and later Maguire chances to break their international ducks, that came as something of a disappointment with the spectre of record goalscorer Robbie Keane’s retirement, now one of the manager’s assistants, still haunting the nation.
However, Maguire is convinced Ireland can find the cutting edge they will need if they are to emerge from Group D and make it to the finals, for which the nation is one of the hosts.
He said: “You see Robbie popping up with a goal and [Shane] Duffy is a man mountain, scoring against Denmark. He has scored some crucial goals at times.
“It’s good to have goals coming from all different areas. I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of goals throughout the group. It’s just about finding those areas to score.
“I think we can gain confidence from the last few games.”
The fact remains that the four qualifiers to date have yielded just five goals – midfielder Jeff Hendrick struck in Gibraltar in March with Conor Hourihane’s free-kick securing victory over Georgia three days later, while Duffy’s equaliser in Denmark on Friday evening secured a potentially priceless point.
However, that means that McCarthy’s pool of strikers is yet to register – indeed, McGoldrick, Hogan, Maguire and Robinson do not have a single senior international goal between them in a total of 29 appearances with the injured Shane Long having managed 17 in 82.
But Maguire is hoping it is only a matter of time, and that Preston team-mate Robinson in particular will make his mark in a green jersey.
He said: “I’ve known Robbo for the last couple of years. He’s a bubbly character. He’s new to this group, like I am, and he doesn’t shy away from it.
“You can see his quality out on the pitch. He can make something out of nothing. Give him a bit of time and he will shine on the international stage. Robbo can be anything he wants to be.”