By Liam Mackey
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has hailed Sean Maguire’s hat-trick performance for Cork City against Dundalk last night.
However, O'Neill made it clear that he won’t be bringing the striker back from his mid-season holder to bolster his attacking options for tomorrow week’s World Cup qualifier against Austria.
O’Neill, accompanied by Roy Keane, was in Oriel Park to see Maguire hit his first hat-trick for City barely 12 hours before it was confirmed that the 23-year-old will be leaving the club for Championship side Preston at the end of July.
“I thought his movement in the penalty area was absolutely brilliant, really, really good” said O’Neill. “I think he has improved since the last time I saw him live which was at the Cup Final. For the two goals that I saw – I left in the 83rd minute so I didn’t see the final goal – he did very well.
"Apparently, he’s on his way (to Preston). Regardless of how well he did, he’s a young lad who’s going back having previously had a time over the water and I think he wants to have a real go at it again. And that’s great news.
“I can only judge by his football and last night in the penalty area he was really excellent. I can consider a lot of things but, at the end of it all, I think putting someone so young and inexperienced into the Austria game – which is a really important match - would be a really tough ask for the player.”
After squad training this morning ahead of tomorrow’s friendly at the Aviva against Uruguay, Robbie Brady expressed his relief at being back in contention for the upcoming clash with Austria, having missed the last World Cup qualifier, against Wales, through suspension.
“It was a tough one, last time, a hard one to watch,” he said of the scoreless draw at the Aviva. “But it was a decent result and I got to play the following game against Iceland which just gave me a bit of a taste for it again. So I just can’t wait now for these games coming up, tomorrow against Uruguay and the big one next week.
“This season (at Burnley) has been a little stop-start for me personally but every time I’ve come back here I’ve been ready to play. I’m fit and excited about these two games coming up.”
Uruguay have opted not to train at Aviva Stadium today.
Encouragingly, Martin O’Neill was able to report a general clean bill of health – bar “a couple of knocks and bruises” – as he prepares to send out a very different side against Uruguay to the experimental line-up beaten 3-1 by Mexico in New Jersey on Thursday night.
“We’ve got a lot of players at the moment, the group that travelled to the USA supplemented by some of the Premiership players,” he said.
“There will be a few who need to play against Uruguay so we’ll be changing a few things around. I would still think that players like Robbie, who have a fairly decent chance of starting against Austria, would need some game time just before they step into that. But whether all eleven players will start in the game tomorrow, I’m not so sure. But it is important for me for some of the Premier League players to get some game time."
Of tomorrow’s opposition, O’Neill said: “Uruguay are a strong team, very much so.
It’s the way we’ve gone about friendly games in the last couple of years: we’ve tried to choose as tough opposition as possible because you’ll learn more from those than playing against lesser teams.”