Kevin Kilbane says Daryl Horgan deserves to be considered ahead of Aiden McGeady in the pecking order for selection for Martin O’Neill’s squad, writes Liam Mackey.
The former Irish international also believes the Dundalk star would be good enough to get into the team for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova.
“100%,” said Kilbane. “He would have proved it against better players in European football this season.”
While Kilbane is pleased that, at his former club Preston North End, McGeady has made a bright start to the new season, he still thinks the veteran winger needs to do more to retain his place on the international scene.
“He has got the experience, but I don’t think he has been producing consistently enough,” he said.
“That is where you look at the likes of Daryl Horgan. McGeady’s place is in jeopardy for the performances that he has been putting in. I think he [Horgan] has been playing consistently better than McGeady and he has been doing that over a long period of time.”
Martin O’Neill insisted last week that, but for Dundalk’s current heavy workload, he would have called Horgan into his latest squad. Kilbane feels that, particularly on the back of the Irish champions’ European exploits this season, the gifted player would be fully deserving of the honour.
“The level they are playing at, Dundalk, is above and beyond Championship level,” he said.
“You can see by looking at the Legia Warsaw games, the BATE games and the AZ Alkmaar game, and we’ll see again [against Maccabi Tel Aviv] on Thursday. Of course, it will be difficult, but you can see they are very comfortable playing at that level. Very comfortable playing against technically, so-called superior players, because, as soon as you get in a rhythm of playing against European sides — certainly, I found it at international level — you suddenly realise they are no better.”
Horgan’s Dundalk team-mate Brian Gartland, who joined Kilbane to launch Aviva’s sponsorship of the FAI Junior Cup yesterday, wryly noted that the traditional pathway for talented League of Ireland players to the senior international team is via England, even if only after the briefest of spells.
“Magically, you get a flight over and, after two days in England, you’re up to standard and you’re in the squad — it’s some flight, that,” observed Gartland.
He accepts, however, that there is a step-up required for most domestic players to cut it at a high level over there.
“When you’re playing League of Ireland, it’s not the same standard as playing Championship week in, week out, you can’t argue with that, but if you’re proving it against top teams here, I’d say it’s the same as proving it in League One,” he said. “You see what Chris Forrester has done in that league, he looks technically outstanding. Now, he was a brilliant player here but he looks even better over there.”
Dundalk’s European adventure, he insists, has changed the picture even more radically for the side’s most talked-about player.
“Judging the standard can be hard but you can’t argue it when Daryl Horgan takes AZ to the cleaners and he fleeces two or three players on runs,” he said. “There’s no question about it, you’re playing against internationals, it’s a better standard than Championship football.”