Football/Soccer

Striker Scott Hogan shocked to be still in Republic of Ireland squad

Republic of Ireland's Scott Hogan goes around Turkey's goalkeeper Volkan Babacan during the international friendly match at the Antalya Stadium in March 2018
From Brendan Crossan in Tbilisi

2020 European Qualifying Group D: Georgia v Republic of Ireland

 

SCOTT Hogan revealed he was shocked to find himself named in Mick McCarthy’s Euro 2020 Qualifier squad for the upcoming double header against Georgia and Switzerland after a lack of game-time at Stoke City this season.

The 27-year-old striker, who made the first of his seven international appearances against Turkey in March 2018, has endured a frustrating time at on-loan Stoke but he hopes his last-minute winner against Swansea last Saturday will be the springboard his season desperately needs.

Hogan didn’t anticipate being retained by McCarthy despite making a couple of impressive cameo appearances in the drawn Qualifiers against Denmark and Switzerland and earning a rare start in the home tie against Gibraltar at the end of last season.

The Aston Villa man, who also had a loan spell at Sheffield United, was initially dropped from the Swansea game but found his way on the team bus after a heated debate with his manager Nathan Jones.

“I think I’d been out of the squad for three or four games and I hadn’t come on for about six or seven games,” said Hogan.

“He picked the team and the squad on the Friday (for the Swansea game) and, obviously, if you’re not involved you go and do a bit of running and no-one’s ever keen on that.

“But I went and did my running and I just pulled one of his sports scientists who’d come over to me and I just said a few things to him. And he then went and told the manager. I think it was like quarter-to-one and they were leaving at one. The manager pulled me in and two minutes later he told to me get my stuff and get on the bus.

“I obviously can’t use the language that I used. I just said to him: ‘Play me, I’ll score goals at this level, forget what has gone on the past two years, I can do it at this level.’

“I said: ‘I’ve scored two goals, I’m still your top scorer and I’ve hardly played for the past seven games. I said: ‘If you put me on tomorrow I’ll score the winner…’”

Hogan was true to his word and hooked up with the Ireland squad bound for Georgia with a spring in his step.

“I didn’t expect to be here. I said that to my missus. I said we might be able to do something, go away during this international break, because there’s no way I’m in this squad, they can’t pick me.

“This was before the Swansea game, the day before the squad was announced. Then the squad was announced and I was in it, which I was shocked by. I did not expect it. I wouldn’t have picked me. I’m not playing, I’m not even in the squad at the bottom of the Championship. So, why would you pick me?”

Hogan made a positive impression as a late substitute against the Danes and the Swiss and despite his lack of game-time at club level McCarthy has stuck by him.

But even without the injured David McGoldrick (groin strain) – for the Georgia game at least – McCarthy is likely to opt for Luton Town target man James Collins, who caught the eye in last month’s friendly win over Bulgaria, to lead the line in Tbilisi.

The in-form Aaron Connolly of Brighton has been promoted from the U21 squad and is another attacking option for McCarthy to ponder as the Irish go in search of their fourth win out of six games in Group D in Tbilisi tomorrow night and back-to-back victories over the Georgians.

Hogan's international manager has also been full of praise for Hogan, especially after his 90th minute winner against Swansea.

“Walking into the camp on Sunday, the boss comes over and welcomes you: ‘Hello goal-scorer’, and he’ll text you when you do well. It’s just nice.

“No one wants to come into training every day and never play on the Saturday. You are in the international team as a player who can’t even get into his club squad at the bottom of the Championship.”

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