The Callum after the storm: Callum Robinson

Callum Robinson has a twinkle in his toes to match the twinkle in his eye.

The Callum after the storm: Callum Robinson

Callum Robinson has a twinkle in his toes to match the twinkle in his eye.

Inventive on the pitch and infectious off it, the Sheffield United striker has been a breath of fresh air since he broke into the Irish team but, for once, his familiar smile is replaced by a frown as he reflects on his last outing in the green shirt, a personally unrewarding performance in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Dublin, which saw him called ashore around the hour mark.

To be fair to the 24-year-old, he had sat out training the previous day with tightness in a leg muscle but, as he looks back now, he refuses to use injury as an excuse for what he feels was, essentially, a failure to do himself justice on the night.

“I had a little issue before but I’d say that I was fully fit,” he says. “But obviously I didn’t play the best that I can. That’s upsetting for me and my family. I feel like my running power was low. I wasn’t getting myself in the game. I feel like I never got close to anyone on the pressing, defending wise.

"Getting close to someone, leaving something on someone, being a little bit stronger. It didn’t work out for me on the night and it’s obviously horrible to say because as a footballer you want to be top of every game and the least you can do is work hard. I felt like I wasn’t in the game or close to anyone.

“I was trying to get involved as much as I could, but some nights it doesn’t work out and that’s part of my learning. The top players get themselves involved and do well. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again. I don’t want it to happen again but it’s always good to be honest and open.

"Now, my attitude is to do well in the next few games and really excite everybody. I’ve had some good games for Ireland, I will take the positives out of that, but I’m always honest when I haven’t had a good game and that’s why I’m telling you guys (the media) I know that I’ve got more to come and that’s what I am looking to do.

I’m not going to sit here and think the game is gone. That’s in me now for the next two games coming up. I want to prove (myself) to the gaffer and the lads. They deserve a good performance from me every game.

With all the tactical demands on attacking players, how much space is there in the modern game for someone like Robinson to do what comes naturally to him, to play instinctively and off the cuff?

“I think there are some points where I can just go back to playing in the street,” he says, his smile restored. “When you get that 1 v 1, for me that’s when it’s time to do what you do and show your talents. You need that to get past these top defenders, you can’t just like breeze past.

"You have to do a trick or a chop. A lot of the game now is about setting up the press or getting back in as a group and listening to the guys behind you, left, right, etc. That’s obviously coaching and being coached.

"For me, the time when you can be free and be yourself is when you are in that final third with comfortable possession. That’s when you can do more movements and take on a guy, get half a yard and shoot. That’s been natural to me from when I was young - you can’t teach that sort of stuff.

“The best performances you have are when you’re battering a team basically (laughs) and then it’s all you in the final third. But the higher the level you go, you don’t literally have 90 minutes of pummeling a team, that doesn’t happen. But the more we have the ball, the more I come alive, the more all the attackers come alive.”

While Robinson concedes that, this afternoon in Georgia and, certainly, next Tuesday night in Geneva, the visitors are unlikely to enjoy the luxury of dominating the ball, he still believes Mick McCarthy’s Ireland are well-equipped to pose their own threat in these crunch qualifiers.

“I think we’ve come a long way, I do,” he says. “Over the last six, seven months, I think we’ve shown what we can do. I think that belief is back and positivity. Results get you get that. They’re going to be tough games, don’t get me wrong, really tough games. Both teams have got some real quality. There’ll be no battering going on.

“But I’ve got so much belief in the boys. I feel we have got a lot of quality too and I think there’s so much more to come as well. The Bulgaria game, with so many young players playing, showed the quality we have in the squad. It’s a good time to be playing for Ireland.”

And then there is potential impact of the latest bright young thing, Aaron Connolly. Having opened his own Premier League goal account in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea in September, Robinson was delighted to see the 19-year-old hit the mark on the double on his top-flight debut for Brighton against Spurs.

“It was good to see,” he says. “I know how hard it is to score a Premier League goal and to score two really good goals against Tottenham, it was lovely. Yeah, I’m really happy for him and hopefully he can bring that positivity and energy to the boys in the next few games.”

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