Preston North End striker Sean Maguire looking for better fortune on the Republic of Ireland front

Preston North End striker Sean Maguire will be hoping for some better fortune on the international stage on Tuesday night than he got last Saturday.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 11:35 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 12:43 pm
Sean Maguire battles for possession against Gibraltar's Jack Sergeant. Photo: Getty Images

The 24-year-old made his first competitive start for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-0 win over Gibraltar.

Whilst he got 72 minutes under his belt, it was a struggle for Maguire on a 4G pitch and with a strong wind making for difficult conditions.

Ireland face Georgia in Dublin on Tuesday, with striker choices limited for Mick McCarthy, who is back for a second spell in charge.

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Sean Maguire in action against Gilbraltar

McCarthy admitted it was tough going for Maguire and that the service up to him needed to be better.

“Sean didn’t really get any chances,” said McCarthy.

“You need passes slid down the side of him and I thought Gibraltar marked him well.

“It was not easy trying to control the ball on the pitch – it was tough going for him.”

Maguire won his fifth cap in the Gibraltar game but any previous starts had come in friendly matches.

For the former Cork City man to have come through that one unscathed came as a relief at North End, bearing in mind his injury record - artificial pitches and hamstring issues do not tend to go well together.

The Irish camp have liaised with Preston about Maguire’s training schedule to keep him in top condition.

After three big hamstring injuries since October 2017, he has put together a good run of games of late.

Maguire came on as a sub in the 1-1 draw with Swansea which started off North End’s unbeaten run in January.

He has started the last 11 games, scoring three goals.

McCarthy’s comment about the need to slide passes down the side of Maguire to get the best out of him, echoes what North End boss Alex Neil has said about him.

Neil thinks Maguire’s big strength is running behind defences rather than playing with his back to goal to hold up the ball.

He used the striker’s goal at Millwall last month as a point in case, Maguire running on to Paul Gallagher’s through ball to chip the keeper.

Meanwhile, former North End goalkeeper and keeper coach Alan Kelly is back with the Republic of Ireland.

He has joined McCarthy’s coaching staff having been the Irish’s keeper coach between 2006 and 2013.

Kelly is combining the role with his job at Everton where he is Under-23s keeper coach.