Thursday 22 February 2018

Maguire on move, but Austria tie is too early

Cork City's Sean Maguire. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cork City's Sean Maguire. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

John Brennan

Cork City sensation Seánie Maguire will be on his way to Preston North End at the end of July after the Championship outfit announced the Kilkenny man's capture yesterday.

The Airtricity League leaders will receive an initial fee of €150,000 for their talisman, who scored a stunning hat-trick against champions Dundalk on Friday night to all but wrap up the title debate.

Maguire may also join the Irish squad for a week's training leading up to next week's World Cup qualifier against Austria, but manager Martin O'Neill is adamant he will not use the Cork City hit-man in the big match. Despite Ireland needing goals from somewhere, anywhere, next Sunday, he feels it would be too soon and too massive a leap for the 23-year-old to be asked to produce the goods against the Austrians at the Aviva Stadium.

As he met the media before the friendly against Uruguay today (6.0pm), O'Neill already had his mind made up about Maguire. "For a lad so young and so inexperienced it would be a really tough ask for him to play against Austria," said O'Neill. "I'd have a look at bringing him in for training with us. But in terms of starting a game like the one against Austria, that would be a really tough call."

O'Neill was really impressed by Maguire's display for Cork City on Friday night when the striker's hat-trick left the Leesiders with one hand on the League trophy - in only the first week in June.

"Maguire's movement in the penalty area was brilliant - much improved since the last day I saw him live, which was the FAI Cup final last November," he said. "I left on Friday night before his last goal, but I'd seen enough of his movement and his finishing to know what a serious player Seánie is - and now he's got his move coming up."

Maguire would be able to join the Irish panel for training later this week as Cork have no game next weekend with the League taking a brief mid-season break.

O'Neill confirmed the squad to be in good spirits, despite the fact that they will still be in camp with Ireland until June 11.

"As ever, the spirit within the group is strong, everyone wants to be here and to play in these two games. The lads are used to this stuff by now. Obviously every second year, you want to be travelling to a (championship) finals, and every second year you have to play qualifiers now.

"I seem to remember a qualifier against Scotland two years ago at the same time of the year and no-one complained."

O'Neill had planned to put out the XI he hopes to start the Austria clash in this evening's game, but may not do so now.

"That was my thinking early on, that players like Robbie Brady, who have a fairly decent chance of starting against Austria, would play. It is hard now for me to make a total judgement that all 11 will start, but it is important for me that our Premier League players see a bit of action now. But I'm very hopeful that we will be fresh and ready to go when it really matters next Sunday, because that is a big, big World Cup game for us.

"Some players had stop-start seasons because of injuries, but that doesn't guarantee they will be flying next week. But we won't be offering excuses in terms of physical preparation. We'll be ready for Austria."

And part of that is today's match.

"I'm expecting a good test from Uruguay," added the Irish boss. "We've always picked harder opponents in my time for friendlies, we want to improve all the time and you do that by playing the best. And even without Luis Suarez, Uruguay will give us a tough test."

  • Ireland v Uruguay, eir Sport 1, 6.0

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