Dave Seddon's PNE Press View

The luck of the Irish has been in short supply of late at Deepdale for those Preston players who hail from the Emerald Isle.

Saturday, 11th November 2017, 10:15 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:02 pm
Sean Maguire celebrates scoring PNE's second goal against Cardiff at Deepdale

As the Republic of Ireland prepare to take on Denmark for the prize of a place at next summer’s World Cup, none of the PNE Irish contingent will be involved.

Five of the six have been capped previously at senior level but for one reason or another, will be watching the play-offs as spectators.

If anyone is the symbol of rotten luck, it is striker Sean Maguire.

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Only last month he won his first Irish cap and with frontmen in short supply, could have expected 
game-time at some stage against Denmark.

But rather than join up with the Ireland squad at the start of the week, instead he was in the operating theatre for surgery to repair a badly damaged hamstring.

It will be three or four months before he is playing football again – a blow for both club and country.

The same type of injury and operation is something Greg Cunningham knows only too well about.

Like Maguire, a muscle came away from the tendon in his hamstring in August.

Cunningham had just been named in the Irish squad for the internationals scheduled for the start of September when injury struck in the defeat to Derby.

It is surgery the left-back is currently rehabilitating from, with his recovery still having some time to go.

Of all the injuries – and there have been many – PNE have had of late, the loss of Maguire has been the most deflating.

Even though he has only worn a Preston shirt since late in July, Maguire had been exciting North End fans for some time before that due to the timescale of his transfer from Cork City.

The move was agreed in May and made public the month after, but long before that the jungle drums had been beating.

As the goals flowed in the League of Ireland, North End supporters licked their lips in anticipation of what they would be getting towards the end of pre-season.

A goal 20 minutes into his debut against Burnley in a friendly only raised the levels of excitement.

Maguire settled in well at Championship level, and had four goals to his name by the time injury struck.

The latest of those against Brentford was very much in the mould of the one he’d netted in the Burnley game.

He showed his versatility by playing anywhere across the attacking line behind striker Jordan Hugill.

On the opening day of the campaign against Sheffield Wednesday, he had started ahead of Hugill in the 
centre-forward role.

January looks the 
best-case scenario for a Maguire return, with 
February likely if it stretches to the full four months.

Hopefully by the time he returns, there is a World Cup place for him to fight for and the chance of helping North End push for something.

Maguire is a player who genuinely excites, who has the ability to get people off their seats and put defenders on the seat of their pants.

His work-rate will always catch the eye of managers.

Little wonder then that Alex Neil – not a man prone to exaggeration – was to 
describe the loss of Maguire as ‘devastating’.

Of the other Irish players in the Preston squad, Daryl Horgan and Alan Browne both missed the cut for the play-off double-header with Denmark after being named in the provisional squad.

Browne’s omission is not too much of a surprise, with others ahead of him in the Ireland midfield.

Perhaps Horgan being overlooked does raise the eyebrows, just by reason of him being regularly included for the best part of a year in the Irish set-up.

However, the winger has not played regularly for PNE this season and seems to be paying for that now.

With North End having not scored for the last two games, and with Hugill and Maguire missing for Bolton’s visit next Friday night, could that be Horgan’s chance?

The final two of Preston’s Irish group are Andy Boyle and Kevin O’Connor.

It is only recently that they have got their chance under Neil and have come into the squad at a tough time.

For the first quarter of the season, patience was very much a virtue for them.

Meanwhile, former PNE boss David Moyes made his return to management with West Ham this week. Moyes’ appointment was met with little enthusiasm in East London but I doubt that will worry him too much.

When Preston gave him his first job as a manager in 1998, it wasn’t an universally popular appointment among the PNE faithful.

He led North End to the Second Division title and then to within 90 minutes of the Premier League.

Sometimes you don’t have to be Mr Popular to enjoy some success.

One national newspaper had a psychologist assess Moyes’ first press conference as Hammers boss.

What nonsense. Such conferences never bring out the best in people.

Most journalists stay quiet in the main event, keeping their powder dry until they are able to get a one-on-one chat with the new boss.

That is when they start to get a clearer picture.