PNE striker Sean Maguire eyes play-off push

Sean Maguire
Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire has not taken his eye off Preston North End’s push for the play-offs during his time with the Republic of Ireland squad in Turkey this week.

The 23-year-old striker will win his second cap in the Republic’s friendly against Turkey in Antalya on Friday afternoon.

PNE midfielder Alan Browne

PNE midfielder Alan Browne

But PNE’s exploits at the top end of the Championship are still in his thoughts.

They return to action on Good Friday against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, that the start of an eight-game run-in as they look to climb into the top six.

Derby and Middlesbrough are only two points ahead in fifth and sixth respectively, with Bristol City a point ahead of PNE in seventh.

Maguire said: “There are two positions that five or six teams can grab with eight games to go.

Daryl Horgan

Daryl Horgan

“Eight games in the Championship is massive, anyone could grab those fifth and sixth places.

“I think the top four is pretty much settled with Wolves, Villa, Cardiff and Fulham, but those two places are up for grabs and it feels like we are getting better each game.”

Maguire has been in fine form since his return from injury earlier in the month.

Last summer’s signing from Cork City has netted five goals in four games, with him only having started two of those matches.

His tally for the campaign stands at nine goals, that an impressive figure bearing in mind Maguire missed four months after having surgery to repair a badly damaged hamstring.

Maguire’s record either side of the injury absence is seven goals in seven games.

In Turkey he has Preston team-mates Alan Browne and Daryl Horgan for company.

Greg Cunningham would have been there too had it not been for a hamstring strain he suffered after being named in the initial squad.

Going forward, Maguire hopes that Callum Robinson can join the PNE contingent in the Irish squad.

Robinson qualifies to play for the Republic through his late grandmother.

Speaking to the Irish media, Maguire said: “Callum is very different to what we have here.

“Technically, he’s one of the best players I’ve played with.

“He can play anywhere across the front three and this is the first time in his career that he’s played as a number nine.

“He’s chipping in with a lot of goals and it’s great for him to come out and say that he’s able to play for Ireland.

“All he has to do is to keep his head down, keep working as hard as he’s doing and hopefully the chance arises for him.”

As Maguire looks to add to his single cap, Browne and Horgan will be looking for time on the pitch too.

Browne has one cap too, that earned last summer in a 3-1 defeat to Mexico.

Winger Horgan has been capped twice to date.