David McGoldrick knows the question is coming. It always does these days.
He had just banged in 16 goals in his first season for Ipswich Town in the Championship when Leicester City, newly-promoted to the Premier league at the time, contacted his manager Mick McCarthy with a reported £5m bid.
Ipswich upped the ante by adding a few million onto the price tag and Leicester baulked. That was two years ago.
McGoldrick had never demanded a move, but he admitted later that it took him time to process the disappointment of missing out on a shot at the big league.
Leicester looked a good fit. Even then.
It was only 45 minutes down the road from his native Nottingham and he was good pals with City defender Wes Morgan. And it must have looked even more of a lost shot when Jamie Vardy struggled to a five-goal tally in the season that followed.
McCarthy’s reluctance to do business was in keeping with his belief in a player whom he told soon after arrival at Portman Road that he would be the number one striker, but Leicester’s unlikely league title has inevitably caused people to take him back to that sliding doors moment.
So, Leicester? Vardy?
“I get asked this all the time,” he laughed. “It was two years ago and people say ‘oh, this could have happened, that might have happened’. Or, if I might have gone there, someone might have not been in the team. I don’t think a ‘certain somebody’ was playing for the team at the time.
“He may not have been in the team and his career could have turned out a whole lot differently. He might not be the superstar that he is now, you know? I might kick the ball differently to someone else. Things happen. I don’t look back to that.
“I just try to look to the future, scoring goals with Ipswich and with Ireland.”
It’s a straightforward ambition and one borne of a frustrating two seasons ruined by a succession of injuries that have hampered his ambitions with club and country since that breakthrough campaign under McCarthy.
He missed close to four months of the season just ended alone, from December to April, before claiming a pair of goals at the tail end against MK Dons and Derby County, but he remains light on match fitness and sharpness.
In all, he managed 27 appearances last term, but 15 of those came off the bench. Five goals and 18 shots on target were his inconsiderable lot.
A frustrating predicament for a 28-year who has endured six loan spells and played with eight clubs in a nomadic career.
“I know. I get to a certain level of sharpness and then I get a little niggle. I missed one of the (Ireland) meet-ups with a bit of a groin and then I came back from that and felt really sharp. Then I did my hamstring completely.
“The year before I had little niggles as well - when we were meeting up for the England and Scotland games, from being out for four or five months - but it’s part of football and I must stay going.”
It’s a run of ill fortune that prompted him to seek advice on his knee injury from a specialist in Philadelphia and he has adopted a routine involving bands, stretches and yoga to keep iffy hamstrings onside before a ball is kicked.
It all adds another 45 minutes to his day, but he isn’t alone in that. Harry Arter spoke of something similar when discussing his Achilles heel concerns on Wednesday and McGoldrick has been inspired by the extra work he sees Jonathan Walters put in whilst on Ireland duties.
“Definitely. I see the hard work that he does,” McGoldrick said. “He’s in the corridors stretching and you’re thinking, ‘Jesus, mate, ain’t you going to watch TV or something?’ But he’s always looking after himself.
“Isn’t he Stoke’s (all-time) top scorer in the Premier League? Yeah, he is. To see him still working his socks off like that, you know, me coming from the Championship looking up to a top Premiership player like that, it shows me I have to do things like that as well.”
McGoldrick is in an unusual situation in that he is vying with clubmate Daryl Murphy for what will probably be the fourth and final place for a forward in the squad that travels to France. All he can do now is make Martin O’Neill’s job that bit harder.
“He’s been to my games, but he wants the reassurance I can do it. He probably just wants some reassurance of what I can do because it’s tough for places in this final 23. I’m here and I want to be a part of that.”
Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: How the Irish players in the Premier League got on in 2015/16
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