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The Sheffield United striker announced his international retirement in November.
Ireland’s World Cup qualification begins in March with fans cautiously awaiting the commencement of the campaign.
It’s been a rough few months for the national side. Controversy surrounding a pre-match motivational video, no wins throughout 2020, the retirement of David McGoldrick in addition to Damien Duff and Alan Kelly stepping down from their roles in recent days have all contributed to a miserable period of time for Ireland.
The absence of David McGoldrick in particular could have a damaging effect on the team’s on-field performance.
Despite not being a natural goalscorer – or even an experienced international – McGoldrick proved himself as a key member of the squad over the past couple of years. His showing against Slovakia in October as well as his performances against Switzerland and Denmark in 2019 more than demonstrated his worth to the national team.
As luck would have it, McGoldrick is enjoying his best spell of form at club level for a long time since his international retirement. The striker has been the shining light in a torrid season for Sheffield United thus far.
He has 5 goal contributions in 16 games including a brace against Manchester United and a stunning backheel goal against Chelsea. Even more impressive, though, has been his all-around play. Just yesterday he was named man of the match against Newcastle after a string-pulling performance.
McGoldrick’s retirement from international duty is further compounded by the lack of striking options available to Ireland at the minute.
Many Irish strikers playing at a high level are either inexperienced, out of form or lacking first team minutes.
Shane Long was Ireland’s go-to striker for years but his playing time at both club and international level has gradually decreased over the past couple of years. He still, of course, has plenty to offer but if he’s not getting first-team minutes Stephen Kenny may be reluctant to start the Tipp man in March given the magnitude of the games.
There are also plenty of young strikers coming through, some of which already have experience in the national side.
Adam Idah and Troy Parrott are the two most likely candidates to start up front in March. Both have had their injury problems this season but they’ve been given game time in the Championship when available which is more than can be said about a lot of Ireland’s other options.
Idah started the season strongly by scoring on the opening day but has been out injured since November. To add to his injury, Idah has also contracted COVID-19 over the past week or so. He’s due back in February so hopefully he can get some game time under his belt before the international break.
Parrott, on the other hand, has been starting for Millwall recently after a 2020 marred with injury/health issues. He is yet to find his scoring touch that he’s displayed previously at underage level, though. Saying that, he has been playing at an acceptable level. His first goal for the club could be just the thing needed for the Spurs loanee to get his season on track.
Michael Obafemi is another one which has been touted as a star of the future for a couple of years now. Despite an impressive 2019/20 campaign, he has only played 16 minutes of Premier League football this season. Obafemi was reportedly due to complete a loan move to Swansea this month but to his misfortune he suffered a muscle injury in training which resulted in the Welsh club ending their interest. Realistically, he may not even get selected for the senior squad. Stephen Kenny always preferred Idah and Parrott in the u21s and hasn’t called Obafemi up to any senior squad so far.
Kenny has an enormous task at hand in the upcoming campaign and his fortunes are only made worse by the lack of strikers available to him.
Is there anyone that can step up and fill the void left by David McGoldrick?
David McGoldrick announces his retirement from international football
The Football Association of Ireland would like to thank David for his fantastic service and wish him all the best for the future
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) November 4, 2020