Ireland's Callum Robinson keen to break his duck on the international stage
2020 European Qualifying Group D: Georgia v Republic of Ireland: (today, Boris Paichadze National Arena, 2pm Irish time)
AFTER breaking his duck in the English Premiership earlier this season, Callum Robinson is determined to get off the mark on the international stage against Georgia today.
The Sheffield United striker opened his account against Chelsea at the start of September in a 2-2 draw – but has yet to hit the net for Republic of Ireland in nine appearances.
The 24-year-old, who joined Premiership new boys Sheffield United from Preston NE in the summer, carried an injury into last month’s Euro 2020 Qualifier against Switzerland and didn’t look fully fit before being replaced early in the second half of the 1-1 draw.
But Ireland boss Mick McCarthy is known for sticking by his players and will probably resist the temptation of starting U21 starlet Aaron Connolly in favour of Robinson on the right flank for today’s crucial showdown in Tbilisi.
“I’ve scored my first Premier League goal and now my next thing is to score my first international goal,” said Robinson.
“That’s in the back of my head now and I can’t wait for that moment.
“Hopefully the gaffer gives me the minutes to try and get that moment. That’s my next step and then it’s to try and progress on from that, which I’m trying to do in the Premier League as well.”
Robinson impressed in the latter stages of Martin O’Neill’s reign and has found favour with McCarthy since the European qualification campaign kicked off in Gibraltar last March, playing 133 minutes and starting two out of five Euro Qualifiers.
The manager binned the Seamus Coleman-Matt Doherty axis down Ireland’s right side after an hour in Gibraltar with Robinson taking over from Doherty, giving the side more attacking balance.
But Robinson, who qualifies to play for the Republic through his Monaghan-born grandmother, knows his place in the side is coming under scrutiny from the emerging Connolly, with Luton Town’s James Collins touted to lead the Irish attack in place of the injured David McGoldrick this afternoon.
Reflecting on his introverted display against the Swiss in Dublin, Robinson said: “I was trying to get involved as much as I could, but some nights it doesn't work out and that's part of my learning.
“The top players get themselves involved and do well. Hopefully it doesn't happen again.
“I've had some good games for Ireland, I will take the positives out of that, but I'm always honest when I haven't had a good game [but] I know that I've got more to come.”
Since signing a four-year deal with the Blades, Robinson feels he belongs both in the English Premiership and on the international stage and feels every week is a learning curve.
“I feel like I deserve to be at that level. I don’t think the gaffer [Chris Wilder] would be giving me the amount of minutes I’ve played this season otherwise. Obviously he has worked with the other lads (at Sheffield United) longer, but I do feel like I deserve to be in the Premier League. As the season goes on, hopefully I’ll keep learning and keep progressing and mark myself as a Premier League striker. I want to be up there with the best.”
And there is no doubting Robinson is learning a lot at club level, and name-checked Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk as one of the best opponents he’s faced in his fledgling English Premiership career.
“Van Dijk is just something else. In one run, I made three different runs and he just ran back straight and was watching me and covered every different angle.
“When the ball is coming in the box, you can’t get in front of him because you are not in the frame of the goal. And if you are behind him he just clears it. But I’m enjoying that, I’m embracing that and it obviously inspires me to be better and to try and score against defenders like that. But I have to say, he didn’t even have a sweat on. That just proves how good he is.”