Saturday 17 March 2018

Conor Sammon aims to take leap forward in battle for front line role

Conor Sammon: 'I'm 27 now. I'm at an age where I really want to be pushing on.' Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Conor Sammon: 'I'm 27 now. I'm at an age where I really want to be pushing on.' Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Conor Sammon's gangly 6ft 2ins frame and chalky complexion may make it difficult for him not to stand out from the crowd.

However, as he renews his battle to remain in the thoughts of the new Irish management, he knows he must re-double his efforts to ensure he is not ignored by the new regime.

Characterised more often than not as an impact replacement – from which six of his nine Ireland caps have derived – Ireland's pressing need for a goalscorer do not seemingly spring his name as a leading contender.

But Martin O'Neill has developed a fondness for bustling centre-forwards who thrive on the end products of flying right and left wingers so the Derby man, whose club career has also seen him pigeonholed as an impact player, knows there is room to make an impression.

If anyone can elbow his way past a queue of likely lads, then it is the physically imposing front man. "I'm 27 now," he concedes. "I'm at an age where I really want to be pushing on. I got a taste of it last season where I was playing week-in, week- out and loved every minute of it.


"The flip side of that this season, although we have done so well as a team, from a personal point of view, I've not had enough games, I've not had enough opportunities. So, this is a massive opportunity because it is one that I didn't really expect with not playing as much last season.

"I wasn't in the last squad and I didn't expect to be in this one either, so I was absolutely delighted to link up with the new manager and coaching staff here.

"Martin has had some career in management and he does quite like a physical striker or target man. We have some lads here that are already in that position like big Daryl Murphy, Shane Long is a real physical presence, as is Kevin Doyle. There is so much competition, it is really good to test yourself against so many good strikers. It is a good challenge and test and one I look forward to."

While Giovanni Trapattoni was a huge admirer of his yeomanry spirit – "he's my best man!" chirps the player who will wed next month – O'Neill was lukewarm initially, but Sammon's relative under-employment at Derby was an obstacle to his advancement.

"I could see exactly why I wasn't in the squad – I hadn't been playing games," he says. "I don't know what the future holds, but I want to play games and if I get a run of games, hopefully, I can go out there, do the business, score goals and keep my name in the running.

"I never thought that it could be the end as I am quite a positive person. I am always looking up."

Which, for someone of his stature, is quite the feat.

Irish Independent

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