Preston North End striker Sean Maguire eyeing a Republic of Ireland appearance on Gibraltar's 4G pitch

Preston North End striker Sean Maguire will be feeling carpet under his feet if he plays for the Republic of Ireland on Saturday.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 10:38 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 11:43 am
Sean Maguire in action for Preston in their victory against Blackburn at Ewood Park

The Irish open their Euro 2020 qualifying programme with a visit to minnows Gibraltar who have an artificial pitch at their Victoria Stadium.

Maguire could well feature as Southampton striker Shane Long has pulled out injured.

The Republic play again on Tuesday night when they face Georgia at Dublin's Aviva Stadium, that also a Euro 2020 qualifier.

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Sean Maguire heads Preston's late winner against Birmingham City at Deepdale

It is only in the last couple of months that Maguire's season at North End has properly got going.

Two hamstring injuries limited his involvement in the first-half of the campaign to six games.

Since returning to full fitness in January, he has made 11 starts on the bounce.

Maguire got his third goal of the season against Birmingham last Saturday, heading the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

Preston striker Sean Maguire

Now he hopes to carry that form into service with his country, the 24-year-old admitting it hasn't quite happened for him yet on the international stage.

"I think when I'm playing and I'm fully fit my record speaks for itself," said Maguire.

"What's happened so far in an Irish jersey I haven't done myself any justice.

"I've only had one start and a couple of cameos.

"Given the opportunity, I think I can bring goals and these are the types of games that maybe you'll get more chances to put the ball in the back of the net.

"I'll relish that opportunity."

It's been all change at the top of the Irish set-up, with Mick McCarthy returning for a second spell as manager in place of Martin O'Neill.

Maguire said: "Mick has been Ireland manager before and he's been at a lot of games to watch players.

"His assistant Terry Connor has been at Deepdale a few times to watch us."

McCarthy has monitored Maguire's workload in training this week, the striker sticking to the fitness programme he does at Preston.

"Sean has missed a lot of games through hamstring strains and pulls, and his schedule at the club would be exactly what they are giving him," said McCarthy.

"So I'm cool, whatever they do to get him out on the pitch on a Saturday, is what we will do.

"He doesn't train on Mondays, he trains Tuesday and Wednesday and I think he has Thursday off and that's only for a short time so they can get the best out of him in games.

"Whatever Preston do, they've got him playing, they've got him playing well and scoring, and I will adhere to whatever they want."