With Robbie Keane expected to retire from international football, Martin O’Neill’s need to unearth a striker who regularly finds the net grows ever more urgent.
Keane clearly isn’t the player he once was but he has been, by a considerate distance, the most prolific striker this country has ever produced. His absence will leave a massive void.
In his search for a regular goal-getter, O’Neill could perhaps do worse than pay a visit to Wolves to run the rule over Joe Mason.
A scorer for Cardiff City in the 2012 League Cup final, Mason’s career has been a stop-start one since.
However, the former Ireland U21 international has started this season in sparkling form, netting his second goal in four Championship games in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Birmingham.
Mason missed a couple of chances in the first half but made amends by hauling Wolves level within two minutes of the restart with a superb curling shot.
The 25-year-old’s display won him praise from his manager, legendary Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga.
“I told Mason not to be sad at missing chances,” Zenga said. “The important thing for him is to arrive and be on the end of those chances.
“There is no-one who never makes a mistake. Mason kept going and he came out in the second half and scored an amazing goal.”
Elsewhere, a Paul McShane strike rescued a 2-2 draw for Reading in their home game against Chris Hughton’s Brighton.
Hughton said: “We certainly weren’t at our best today. Reading were better than us.
“I was especially disappointed with our first-half performance. For the levels that we’ve been at recently, I don’t think we reached those levels in the first half.” Anthony Pilkington was also a weekend scorer, his effort from 20 yards out seemingly putting Cardiff City on course for victory at Fulham but the Cottagers hit back late on to earn a 2-2 draw.
In League One, Shaun Williams scored as Millwall beat Sheffield United 2-1 at the Den, a Simon Cox penalty earned Southend United a 1-1 draw at home to Bristol Rovers while Jay O’Shea netted in Chesterfield’s 2-1 defeat at Shrewsbury Town.
In League Two, Graham Carey produced a superb individual display, highlighted by two fine goals as Plymouth beat Mansfield Town 2-0.
In the Scottish Premiership, Conor Sammon scored one and made two as Hearts hammered Inverness 5-1.
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