The Adam Idah comparison to John Aldridge might, in time, prove warranted. And complimentary. The Liverpool sharpshooter clocked out of international football with 19 goals across 69 caps, while featuring at two World Cups, but his first 20 appearances in green caused a rumpus.
That’s how long it took Aldridge to score for the Republic of Ireland. If Adam Idah comes up short against Greece and Gibraltar later this month, the Norwich City forward will be zero for 16 caps.
If he features at all.
“I’ve played some good games for Ireland,” said Idah over Zoom from the Irish warm weather camp in Antalya, Turkey. “I think the best one for me was probably the Portugal game. And obviously that was, what, two years ago now.
“I probably have to be a bit more consistent, but I don’t think I’ve been bad in many games. Obviously, it can be frustrating not scoring a goal but for me personally I feel like I’ve helped the team quite a bit.
“Obviously, my job is to score goals and I’m sure that will come soon, but I just have to keep helping the team, that’s the main thing.”
There is stiff competition to start ‘up top’ for Ireland this summer. Since a knee injury froze the 22-year-old’s international career for 16 months, from November 2021 until a 25 minute cameo against France in March, a star has been born.
“It was a frustrating couple of months,” Idah admitted, “I just started playing games with Norwich at the time before I got injured and as a player it’s annoying because you want to be out there playing with all of the boys but look, I’ve managed to come through it and I’m here now and I’m ready to get to it.”
With Tom Cannon recuperating from tonsillitis, Idah must fend off Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrott to play centre forward against Greece on Friday week in Athens. If, that is, the Irish management opt for two strikers because a teenager named Evan Ferguson will start. This is guaranteed.
Plenty has happened since Idah was flanked by Callum Robinson and Chiedozie Ogbene in Luxembourg. It is worth nothing that the three Irish goals that night came after Jason Knight replaced the Cork native on 62 minutes. It is also worth saying that Robinson and Ogbene are currently hamstrung.
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny was quick to reintegrate Idah this year, even aiming to start him against France in Dublin before goals changed everything. Premier League goals. FA Cup goals. Evan Ferguson goals.
As Ferguson and Cannon caught fire in 2023, Idah scored once for Norwich City.
During this period, Ireland have switched between a lone frontman – with two attacking midfielders in the shape of Ogbene, Mikey Johnston and Will Smallbone – or a partner for Ferguson. Obafemi got the nod against Latvia in March only to make way as Kenny finished with a 5-4-1 system.
“It would be great to play with Evan,” said Idah. “He’s had an unbelievable season at Brighton. He scored in his first game [start] for Ireland [against Latvia] as well. I think everyone knows he’s a fantastic player and who knows Evan and me could be playing together in Greece and, if not, we’ll both support each other and do the best we can for our country.
“In every team you need some friendly competition, for all of us, there’s not just Evan, there’s five of us forwards all chasing for the same spot and I think we’re all doing everything in the right way, we help each other achieve in the right way to the best we can. Whoever starts in any game I think we all support each other and try to do the best we can. That’s what so good about this team, there’s no ego and we all try to help each other.”
Idah’s power and hold up play is something Kenny openly appreciates. Norwich City clearly agree, re-signing him until 2028. Goals are hardly alien to him; 14 in 17 caps for the Ireland under-17s and five from 11 appearances at under-21.
It is suggested that his first Ireland strike, which is over three years in the making, will be worth the wait.
“Of course. Anyone who comes into the team will want to score for Ireland. It’s a massive thing and me being a striker, of course that’s what I want to do. Seeing the other players score is fantastic and hopefully I can add to that tally.”