John Egan refuses to give up his World Cup dream despite the Republic of Ireland’s dismal start to the new qualifying campaign.
Against each other, defeats against Serbia, and especially against Luxembourg in March, ensured that Ireland’s attempt to reach the final in Qatar was launched in the most disappointing way and with a tough triple header against Portugal, Azerbaijan and the Serbs that September will be theirs Task doesn’t get any easier.
Despite Sheffield United defender Egan acknowledging that they are now underdogs to qualify, he is in no mood to throw in the towel as he has already suffered the bitter taste of relegation from the Premier League with his club.
The 28-year-old said: “Of course it was far from the beginning that we wanted to, but we’re still only two games in and anything can happen.
“It will be difficult, there is no doubt about it. We are definitely underdogs now, but we can only look to the next game and try to get a result.”
“You never know – if you get a little momentum, you never know. For me, it’s all about the next game.
“Ultimately, it’s a profit-making business, we know that. We want to win games, we want to give the country a team that they can proudly support and proudly watch.”
Those two defeats kept Stephen Kenny waiting for a first win in eleven games, a record that has put pressure on the manager and his players.
Kenny has been plagued by selection problems since replacing Mick McCarthy at the top last year. Injuries and coronavirus logs forced him to redraw his plans repeatedly, not much more important than before the semi-finals of the Euro 2020 play-offs with Slovakia.
Well anchored in the manager’s strongest defensive line-up, Egan has been frustrated with the number of games he has had to miss and is desperate to make up for the lost time.
When asked how he managed to watch from a distance, he said: “It was tough. I played the game in Slovakia and then was a close contact so it was really hard to miss games, though I didn’t have Covid. ” I just found it pointless to miss two caps.
“Then the following month against England I got worried. That was the last time I was injured, so I was unlucky with Ireland on that note.
“I haven’t missed too many club games but with Ireland I seem to have missed a few. It’s horrible when you sit at home and watch the games wishing you could be out there and be with the guys in the squad.” .
“Yeah, it was tough, but it’s football. Sometimes things like that happen.”
Egan will hope to seriously relaunch his international career in Thursday’s friendly with Andorra and the trip to Hungary five days later.
Should he do so, he could line up with even more debutants, with Kenny adding uncovered Andrew Omobamidele, Jamie McGrath, Daniel Mandroiu, Sam Szmodics and Chiedozie Ogbene to his newest roster, and he’s urged potential newcomers to join theirs grasp opportunity.
The defender said, “You could be 18 or 32 if you get your chance. The point is to take that chance and try to enjoy it too.”