Striker Sean Maguire ready for Republic of Ireland call

Republic striker Sean Maguire is tipped to start against Gibraltar tomorrow night
From Brendan Crossan in Gibraltar

PRESTON North End striker Sean Maguire says he is fit and ready to play in the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia – but don’t ask him to train on Mondays.

Maguire, who enjoyed cult status at Cork City scoring 36 goals in 48 appearances, before making his cross-channel move to Preston in the summer of 2017, could be in line for only his second senior start for Ireland in Gibraltar tomorrow evening.

With Southampton’s Shane Long and Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis ruled out through injury, the three-times capped Maguire has moved up the pecking order with manager Mick McCarthy already singing his praises this year.

Arguably the most natural finisher in Ireland’s 23-man squad, Maguire’s time in England has been plagued by hamstring problems.

As a consequence, the medical team at Preston advise he doesn’t train with his team-mates on Mondays and instead does a gym session – a regime his international manager was happy to comply with.

When Maguire was seen sitting out training in Abbotstown earlier this week, there was concern McCarthy might be shorn of another striker before a ball had been kicked in Euro 2020 qualification.

“That’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of months since I got back fit,” explains Maguire, "especially with three games in a week – last week I played two 90s and 80 minutes so I think the best thing to do is drop out of training on Mondays and focus on strength work which I do at Preston.

“And the gaffer (McCarthy) wants to follow Preston’s regime which is mostly to take Mondays off.”

Smiling, he adds: “I’ve seen it said that Seanie Maguire takes Mondays off. It’s not ‘I don’t like Mondays’ and only start training on Tuesday. I’m in 9 o’clock most mornings, in the gym for 45 minutes before every training session and I’ll probably have to do that now until the day I retire.

“It was frustrating in the past year but I’ve got used to it now; most times being in the gym on my own getting my legs warmed up before we go out for a proper warm-up.”

Most strikers measure their success by the amount of goals they get. Right now, Maguire is more concerned with the amount of uninterrupted minutes he clocks up for Preston and Ireland.

“I’ve started the last 10, 11 games and gradually I’m feeling better each game. I think, for me, from now until the end of the season, it’s about finishing out games and staying fully fit."

Preston, who have yet to the see the best of the Kilkenny native, are pushing for the Championship play-offs with Maguire securing an invaluable three points against Birmingham City last weekend with a late winner.

“I think goals and stuff like that will take care of itself. I’ve scored a couple, probably would have liked to score a bit more but the gaffer’s kind of used me out wide and up through the middle in a lot of the games. But, look, we’re picking up wins and we’re flying so I can’t really complain.”

While Maguire is beginning to find his stride at Championship level, the 24-year-old has been disappointed with his few international displays.

But, if selected for the Gibraltar and Georgia games, Maguire hopes to break his international duck.

“It could be a great opportunity in the next couple of games to score my first goal for Ireland… I haven’t really kicked on on the international stage. When I put the Irish jersey on, I haven’t really done myself justice. I haven’t played particularly well.

“I know I’ve only had one start, had a few cameos here and there. This could be a couple of games where I could kick on. I’m ready. And I’ll relish the opportunity to put the jersey on.”

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