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Daryl Horgan ready to answer the call if opportunity knocks

But Martin O’Neill may look to rejuvenated McGeady to unlock Moldovan defence

Daryl Horgan: “The manager has done it before, put in players who hadn’t played, and I will be ready to play if it comes.” Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

With everyone training at this stage, Martin O’Neill’s options look a little better than they might have been expected at the start of the week.

But the absence of James McClean, Jon Walters and Robbie Brady means there are still vacancies to be filled up front for Ireland.

Wes Hoolahan, Daryl Murphy and Aiden McGeady look to be towards the top of the queue but Daryl Horgan hasn’t given up hope that there might be an opening at some stage to make his competitive international debut against Moldova or Wales.

Horgan admits that his restricted opportunities at Preston of late won’t help his cause when Martin O’Neill sits down to pick his starting line-ups or sizes up what changes to make during the games but the 25 year-old points to the manager’s knack of springing surprises and insists that if the call comes, he’ll be ready.

“You approach it like you want to play, definitely,” he says. “You work as hard as you possibly can. You may be a bit out in the pecking order with the manager but he has done it before, put in players who hadn’t played, and I will be ready to play if it comes.

Horgan’s problem is that at club level he has generally had to settle for coming on late in games while Preston have been doing rather well and he accepts that once this week is over it will be back to the task of winning over new manager Alex Neil.

“It’s very frustrating really in the sense that everyone wants to play – every minute of every game if you can – but the new manager has come in and he has different ideas, different ways of doing things.

Head down

“Obviously I’d like to make more of an impact but I can’t really have much of a complaint given the way things are going at the minute. We’ve started really, really well [Preston are unbeaten in eight league games since the middle of August], we’ve shot up the table and we look like we can stay in the mix so the team has done brilliantly. I just have to keep my head down, keep working away and hopefully the opportunity will come.”

Andy Boyle is in much the same boat while Sean Maguire has fared rather better under the new man, getting regular chances to play on the right of a three behind a solitary striker. There is, says Horgan, a certain amount of healthy competition which only spills over into open rivalry when the subject of the League of Ireland crops up. That, though, has been happening a lot of late.

“Yeah, yeah!” he says with a laugh, “we watched a bit of the Cork-Dundalk game the other day and there were big celebrations with the late goal! There is a bit of craic.”

At this point the man from the Examiner suggests that though he played for both of the top two, his sympathies probably lie more with Dundalk.

“They’re pretty much all with Dundalk!” Horgan replies with a grin.

But any sense that Cork have lost out three times et cetera?

“No! None!” he exclaims gleefully before driving the point home by accepting that title may be as good as City’s but adding that if “either Dundalk or Rovers win the cup and Galway [his hometown club where his brothers Colm and Christopher still play] stay up then, yeah, that would be very, very good for me.”

Having given him a couple of chances earlier in the year to show what he can do, Horgan certainly seems to be in contention to play some sort of part against Moldova although McGeady’s recent form at Sunderland suggests he is in with a stronger shout of making O’Neill’s starting line-up.

“Simon [Grayson] took a chance with him and was enraptured by him which was great. He just needed someone to believe in him but his main thing is being fit, really properly fit.

“The fittest I’ve seen him was that time in Georgia a couple of years ago but he is regaining that sort of fitness through playing and that’s good.

“He did have the hamstring problem and otherwise he would have been involved against Serbia. But he has that ability, and that is the main thing, to go past players and I’ve never stopped believing in that. There’s not that many in big football that can go past so easily as he does.”