By James Rogers
Patrick Hoban hopes that by firing Dundalk FC to the title he can also land himself a place in the Republic of Ireland senior panel.
There have been increasing calls for Martin O’Neill to include the 27-goal striker in his squad given his form this season for Stephen Kenny’s side.
Hoban hasn’t hidden his ambition to one day represent his country but tomorrow night he will have a green jersey in his crosshairs as he spearheads Dundalk’s bid to open up a nine-point gap over reigning champions Cork City at Turner’s Cross.
A goal on what will be his 100th Dundalk start would see him equal the Premier Division record of 25 goals in a season, previously achieved by Richie Towell in 2015, Jason Byrne in 2004, and Glen Crowe in 2000/01.
The latter pair were both handed international call-ups on the back of their fine scoring form domestically and Hoban feels he is equipped to make a similar step up if called upon.
“I feel that, from where I was last year to where I am this year, I’ve kicked on and massively improved. I’d like to think I’m in my prime now,” he said.
“I’ve a league to win and a cup to try and win with this fantastic side and that’s my main aim but a call-up for Ireland would be a dream come true to be honest.”
The 27-year-old admits his time in England is often held against him, even if 12 goals from 48 starts is not as bad as some critics make the three-year spell out to be.
“England was frustrating with the injuries I got at the wrong time. Like after my first training session with Oxford I went over on my ankle and was out for three months.
“Obviously the stats aren’t as good as what they are here so people will say it’s a different standard but we played in the Europa League and I’ve scored two in that and felt quite comfortable playing at that level.
“England was just one of those things where it didn’t really go my way but I feel I’ve learnt and improved from that. I know that period probably doesn’t stand to me and is probably holding me back a bit but I’d like to think what I’m doing here is making people forget about that.”