Alan Browne: ‘It’s time for me to step up at international level’

Preston midfielder believes it’s up to the entire team to end Ireland’s wait for a goal

Preston midfielder Alan Browne is hoping his experience and goal threat will help the Ireland squad in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. File photograph: PA

Preston midfielder Alan Browne is hoping his experience and goal threat will help the Ireland squad in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. File photograph: PA

 

His performance in Slovakia may not have marked Alan Browne out as the most likely solution to Ireland’s goalscoring problem but the Preston midfielder still believes he has a contribution to made on that front, ideally in the ‘number 10’ role to which he believes he is well suited.

The 25 year-old scored 12 Championship goals for his club a couple of seasons back but as the team has struggled through this campaign - with manager Alex Neil losing his job on Sunday - he has just three to show for 32 appearances.

The grim bit from an Irish perspective is that after James Collins and Ronan Curtis, who have 10 apiece, that is enough to put him joint third in the current squad’s club top scorer chart.

It is probably not surprising then that recently appointed Serbian boss Dragan Stojkovic feels confident enough to predict publicly that his side will win this Wednesday although Browne insists that the visitors also believe they can take the three points.

“I’ve no problem with that,” he says of the Stojkovic claim, “as a manager you expect your team to go out and win; so fair play to him for coming out and saying that because a lot of people hide behind words and don’t say what they are thinking.

“But I know our manager will be expecting the same from us and we expect to beat Serbia so we’ll see how we get on on the day.”

In terms of actually winning the game, of course, Ireland will have to end their wretched recent run without scoring, something Browne believes they can do despite the acknowledged absence of a single prolific player around the group.

“I think in previous years there has been a world-class striker,” he says, “someone who can make something from nothing, one that will get you the goals that win you the games.

“We haven’t had that person of late so it’s going to have be goals throughout the team, you’re going to have to get it from midfielders, wingers, defenders, set-pieces. We’re really strong from set-pieces, we’ve got some big guys coming up from the back.

“So you’re expecting everyone to chip in and that’s the way it’s got to be, we’ve always been built on our togetherness and we’re going to have to be together in this and make sure that everyone’s pitching in, not just defensively but attacking as well. It’s up to us to find a solution and find it fast.”

He remains confident about his own ability to play a part in posing that threat, ideally from behind the striker. “I think being as versatile as I have been probably has been a good thing,” he says. “If people aren’t available, I can fill in. But my preferred position would be playing in the number 10. I would be a bit different to the modern day number 10, I like to run off the ball and make runs in behind; open up defences that way.

“I always hit the box and try to get on the end of things. That would be my preferred position and, in my opinion, my best position. Whether the manager here sees me in that position or not is up to him and I am happy to play wherever I am put.

“I am looking to make sure I put down a marker this time around,” he adds, however. “I’ve had a bit of a rest. I was obviously suspended for the last (Preston) game. So I’m full of energy and ready to go. I’ll be looking to put things right from my own point of view.

“I think I have to. It’s time for me to step up at international level, both within the camp and on the pitch. We have lost a lot of players of late. We might be lacking a bit of experience within the squad. So it will be a chance for a few of us to pitch in and show our leadership skills within the group.”

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