Resurgent Tommie Hoban a man on a mission

Not once but twice has Ireland U21 skipper Tommie Hoban overcome injuries which have threatened to end his career before it can even take flight.

Thankfully, the Watford centre-back is back in action, securing a loan move to Blackburn Rovers, and tonight at Waterford RSC his international career is resurrected too.

Hoban will lead Noel King’s U21s out at the Waterford RSC against Slovenia (7.30pm) aware that qualification for next year’s Euros is beyond them but, like many of his colleagues, armed with plenty to prove.

The player Martin O’Neill once picked out from Watford’s promotion-winning season of 2014/15 as senior potential is now just glad to be fit. Not that the legacy of his injuries have fully subsided.

“I began suffering severe pains in my legs and hips,” said Hoban, who last featured for Ireland a full year ago. “It wasn’t just a case of not being able to walk in the morning — I could hardly breathe.

“I had two operations and tonnes of injections but the pain continued. Eventually, they discovered the cause of the problem to be my pubis bone.

“Now I have to manage the pain because I may have this condition for the rest of my career. It’s certainly a lot better and at least I can play games.”

That’s a similar emotion felt four years ago after his initial injury setback, a troublesome ankle complaint, also sidelined him for 12 months.

“This is my first loan away from Watford and it gives me a good chance to play games,” said Hoban, who debuted last Saturday against Fulham.

“Watford have changed managers a lot but the latest one, Walter Mazzarri, is good to work with. Although he had me on the bench for a Premier League match a few weeks ago, I need to be playing regularly and he agreed to the loan.”

Cork City striker Sean Maguire should lead the line tonight while former Rebel Eoghan O’Connell is also in line for a start on the back of his early-season exploits under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.

IRELAND (probable):

D Rogers (Falkirk); E O’Connell (Celtic), T Hoban (Blackburn Rovers), K Toner (Walsall), G Rea (Luton Town); A Browne (Preston North End), J Cullen (Bradford City); D Connolly (Bray Wanderers), J Byrne (Blackburn Rovers), O Shopido (QPR); S Maguire (Cork City).


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