Exclusive Sean Maguire PNE column

In action against Sheffield Wednesday on the opening day of the season
In action against Sheffield Wednesday on the opening day of the season
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It was a very proud moment earlier this week when I was named in a provisional 39-man Republic of Ireland squad for the next set of World Cup qualifiers.

Growing up as a young fella in Ireland, the dream is to play for your country and I’m one step closer to that.

I know it is a provisional squad at the moment and I might be a long way from making the cut but it is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully I can push on from the good start I have made here at Preston and keep on the radar of Martin O’Neill and his staff.

I don’t know how many bodies will end up in the final squad for the games but I’ll keep working hard to try and get in.

When I used to watched the Republic of Ireland play as a youngster, I would say that Robbie Keane was the player I looked at.

Keane was a striker and I have a similar style to how he played.

He worked hard, was sharp around the penalty box and always gave 110%.

I looked up to him as a young striker and would watch clips on YouTube of him playing to try and pick up a few tips.

Three other Preston lads were named in the Ireland squad too – Alan Browne, Greg Cunningham and Daryl Horgan.

It is great for all of us and if any of us were to make the final squad, there would be familiar faces in the dressing room.

The international call-up has been part of a very good 2017 for myself.

I thought 2016 was a good year for me but I felt that I needed to step up a bit more this year and I think I have done that.

At Cork City, I chipped in with 20 league goals which equalled their club record, with myself and Kevin O’Connor leaving the boys undefeated when we made the move here.

Since moving to Preston last month, I think I have made a decent start.

As a team, we have started well and I’m sure many of the fans would have taken four points from three games.

They were three tough games to start with and the next two against Reading and Middlesbrough will be just as difficult.

Those are the matches you want to play in and it would be great if I’m involved this weekend.

Something I got asked a few times was how I kept my focus at Cork when I knew I was moving to Preston later in the summer.

People would ask if I was able to concentrate on Cork and was I wary of getting an injury.

Being totally honest, it wasn’t hard to focus.

I obviously knew about a month-and-a-half before it became public knowledge, that I would be signing.

My view was that I felt I owed something to Cork City because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been in the position I was in.

I had to keep scoring goals for them, help them to try and win games.

As for getting an injury, you can get injured stepping out of your front door in the morning so why worry about that?

Coming to Preston is a chance for me to kick on in my career and play on the bigger stage.

It began well with me starting the opening-day game against a very tough Sheffield Wednesday, one we won 1-0.

The Championship is a lot different to what I have been used to – the quality is better to start with.

From a physical point of view, the centre-halves who you play against get very close and if you get the ball in to feet, they don’t give you a lot of time to lay it off.

It is a bigger and better standard than the League of Ireland and I knew that would be the case.

This is not my first time playing in England – I started at West Ham and then had a loan spell a few seasons ago at Accrington.

I was young when I was at Accrington and I found it hard there when I was out of the team.

It was a bit of immaturity and I probably lost a bit of confidence.

When this move came up, I said to myself that I would handle things differently.

If I find myself out of the team at any stage, I will deal with it a lot better.

Funnily enough, I used to live in Preston during my loan spell at Accrington.

John O’Sullivan, who was also on loan there from Blackburn, had a house in Preston so I stayed with him.

It was actually very close to the training ground so I knew the area quite well as soon as I arrived.

In terms of settling in now, I should be moving into a house in the next couple of weeks.

I’m in the final stages of sorting that out and it will be good to have somewhere 
after being in the hotel.