Sean Maguire thinks being able to replicate the role he plays for Preston helped him score his first goal for the Republic of Ireland.
The 25-year-old netted in the Emerald Isle’s 3-1 win over New Zealand in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday evening.
Maguire was handed a starting role on the left-hand side of the attack, similar to the position he has filled for PNE for the majority of this season.
He pulled the trigger from 20 yards to find the net and now hopes to be involved in the Republic’s must-win Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark on Monday night.
It was Maguire’s seventh international cap, the goal coming two years on from his Ireland debut.
Maguire said: “I have played off the left at Preston all of this season and I think I have been doing really well there. When the gaffer told me I was going to be playing off the left, I fancied myself to get in positions to score.
“I was absolutely delighted to score – it is a dream to score for your country.
“It’s about time too, it is just over two years since I made my debut against Moldova – it’s been a long time coming.”
Not too many of Maguire’s 16 goals for Preston have come from outside the box.
His three this season were close-range efforts but he was on the edge of the ‘D’ when he rifled home Ireland’s second goal in Dublin.
Said Maguire: “The one I scored was probably the hardest of the four or five chances I got. When I got it out of my feet and struck the ball, I knew it was going in.”
Maguire played 73 minutes on Thursday, PNE team-mate Alan Browne substituted after 66 minutes.
Both are likely to be in the matchday squad for the Denmark game, probably on the bench to start with.
Maguire seems to have found himself a niche in the North End side on the left.
He played as the central striker in the opening-day defeat at Millwall and did not make much impact against two physical centre-backs.
The move to the side, playing as an inside-forward rather than a winger, has seen him get more joy.
Maguire was on target in the victories against Wigan, Brentford and Birmingham.
He played particularly well against Huddersfield last week and has been enjoying his longest run of matches in the Lilywhites side since signing from Cork City for £130,000 in July 2017.
If the Republic can beat Denmark in Dublin, there would be the chance for Maguire and Browne to play in next summer’s Euros.
The tournament is being played around Europe rather than in one country, with Dublin a host city.