Sunday 11 December 2016

McGoldrick knows it's time to stand up and be counted

Published 27/05/2016 | 02:30

McGoldrick may have had a chance to emulate Walters’ in the Ireland squad. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
McGoldrick may have had a chance to emulate Walters’ in the Ireland squad. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

David McGoldrick is sitting down. It is not unusual, but it is instructive. Most players, when pressed, prefer to deal with the media on a 'need to escape ASAP' basis; the Ipswich man is different. Even his manager says so.

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When Mick McCarthy talked about him recently, you left wondering if there was anything he couldn't do.

"David is different to any of the other strikers," said the former Ireland manager. "He's a good finisher, he can take the ball and keep hold of it, he drops in and plays, he's a comfortable, technical player."

There was just one thing, though. "He's not one who threatens off the shoulder all the time," McCarthy demurred. "But he can do that as he's quick enough…"

McGoldrick's difference affects his demeanour; hence his decision to sit where others stand. It is an invitation to engage.

So you echo his manager and suggest that, well, maybe he's no Shane Long when it comes to wheels.

"I'm alright," he smiled. "I'm not that slow. I'm not Shane Long - that's for sure. I'm alright. That's not a high quality of me, the pace, but there are other things that are up to it hopefully."

Such as? He sells himself on paper before the true audition on grass this evening for one of arguably the three vacant spots in Martin O'Neill's squad.

"I like getting ball to the feet, in between the midfield and the striker, the No 10. But obviously I can do the other bit as well. I've done it recently for Ipswich, No 9 up front on my own.

"There's a bit of versatility but obviously I like linking up the play, setting people up as well as scoring goals. I like being involved in the play. I think I can do that quite well."

It's a decent pitch; his only real difficulty has been an unfortunate propensity to be injured when opportunities to impress internationally have presented themselves.

For someone slated as a favourite to make O'Neill's squad, his experience is thin; just two caps, the first after the Londoner completed his well-flagged, protracted eligibility process in November 2014.

After that impressive shift, during which he assisted two of the four goals in the USA win, he had to wait seven months before he featured again; between that England game and tonight, another 11 months will have elapsed.

"He has missed a lot of football and he's hungry for it," noted McCarthy. "He's not wanting his holidays, he wants to make up for lost time."

McGoldrick is 28 now; in international times, that's a lot of years to make up.

Unconnected groin, knee and hamstring injuries have scuppered his progress in recent times; a hamstring tear meant he only played the final four games of this campaign after being ruled out since December.

There is perhaps, too, a belated recognition that talent, with which he is blessed, needed to be married with hard work.

His first glimpse of the Irish squad convinced him of this fact; he recalls watching Jonathan Walters, lying in the corridor of their erstwhile Portmarnock base, contorting his body in a variety of positions. "I used to think, 'Jesus, mate, ain'tcha going to watch TV or something?'"

Then he began to think just why Walters is Stoke City's record scorer in the Premier League era.

HARD WORK

"It makes you realise that talent can only get you so far. Hard work gets you that little bit further. And especially now with all the injuries, that hard work is going to have to come into play now."

McGoldrick may have had a chance to emulate Walters' status, too, if not better it; McCarthy rejected enthusiastic bids from Leicester two summers ago; you may have an idea what they, and the striker they eventually did sign, achieved since.

"I get asked this all the time," he smiles. "He (Jamie Vardy, naturally) may not be the superstar he is now. Things happen. I don't look back on all that. It's about scoring goals for Ipswich and Ireland."

He's comfortable in his own skin. It's all about now.

"It's a pleasure to be here, a bonus. A lot of managers might not have selected me because of my fitness problems but he's selected me so he's got trust. He just wants re-assurance.

"I don't feel like I have to go out there and do ten step-overs. I've just got to play my natural game and what will be will be. He must like me so I have to show what I can do. I'm confident I can do well."

McCarthy told him to just be himself. Which seems chilled? "Yeah, always."

Now, though, it is time for him to stand up.

Irish Independent

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