Brentford striker Scott Hogan gave Martin O’Neill another timely reminder of his scoring prowess with a hat-trick against Preston North End on Saturday to make it six for the campaign.
O’Neill will be in Dublin on Friday to name his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova.
The 24-year-old English-born striker is eligible for Ireland through his grandparents, and insists he couldn’t refuse a call-up from his hero Roy Keane.
Including the tail-end of last season, after which “Hulk” returned from a long injury lay-off, the sharpshooter has now netted 13 goals in 13 appearances for the Bees. That his purple patch comes at a time O’Neill’s established strikers are suffering fallow spells serves to strengthen his claims for inclusion. Shane Long, Jon Walters and Daryl Murphy — the three forwards selected for Ireland’s recent opening qualifier in Serbia — have yet to find the net at club level so far this season.
“I said at the start of the season I wanted 30 goals plus, and that’s my target,” said Hogan after downing a Preston side including Greg Cunningham, Alan Browne, Aiden McGeady, and Eoin Doyle.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Robbie Brady returned from injury to help Norwich secure a 2-1 win at Notts Forest.
Stephen Gleeson and Tommie Hoban shook off knocks in wins for Birmingham and Blackburn respectively.
Ireland U21 striker Conor Wilkinson got off the mark for his on-loan club Chesterfield by notching a brace in their 3-1 triumph over Northampton.
Also in League One, Dave Mooney was on target as Southend United beat Millwall, who had Aiden O’Brien scoring in their 3-1 defeat.
For the second week in a row, both Graham Carey and James Collins rattled the net in League Two. Carey opened the scoring for Plymouth at Exeter and Collins buried the first for Crawley against Luton Town.
In the Scottish Premier League, former Cork City striker Graham Cummins grabbed the winner in St Johnstone’s 1-0 over Hearts.
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