John Egan still holding out hope that Ireland can reach Qatar 2022

Sheffield United defender says it’s been tough watching from sidelines for last few games

Ireland’s John Egan has been unlucky with injuries recently. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ireland’s John Egan has been unlucky with injuries recently. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

John Egan is refusing to give up on his World Cup dream despite the Republic of Ireland’s dismal start to the new qualifying campaign.

Back-to-back defeats by Serbia and, ignominiously, Luxembourg in March ensured Ireland’s bid to make it to the finals in Qatar was launched in the most disappointing of fashions, and with a tough triple-header against Portugal, Azerbaijan and the Serbians to come in September, their task will not become any easier.

However, while acknowledging that they are now outsiders to qualify, Sheffield United defender Egan is in no mood to throw in the towel having already had to suffer the bitter taste of relegation from the Premier League with his club.

The 28-year-old said: “Obviously, it was far from the start that we wanted, but we are still only two games in and anything can happen.

“It’s going to be tough, there’s no doubt about that. We’re definitely outsiders now, but all we can do is to look to the next game and try to get a result.

“You never know — if you get a bit of momentum, you never know. For me, it’s all about the next game.

“At the end of the day, it’s a results business, we know that. We want to win games, we want to give the country a team that they are proud to support and proud to watch.”

Those two defeats took Stephen Kenny’s wait for a first win to 11 games, a record which has piled pressure on the manager and his players.

Kenny has been plagued by selection problems since replacing Mick McCarthy at the helm last year, with injuries and coronavirus protocols having forced him to repeatedly re-draw his plans, no more significantly so than ahead of the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final clash with Slovakia.

Egan, firmly established in the manager’s strongest defensive line-up, has been frustrated by the number of games he has had to miss and is desperate to make up for lost time.

Asked how he had coped with watching from afar, he said: “It’s been tough, to be fair. I played the Slovakia game and then I was a close contact, so it was really hard to miss out on games even though I didn’t have Covid. I felt it was just pointless missing out on two caps.

“Then in the following month against England, I got concussed. Then the last time, I was injured, so I’ve been unlucky in that sense with Ireland.

“I have not missed too many club games, but with Ireland, I seemed to have missed a good few. It’s horrible when you are sitting at home watching the games and wishing that you could be out there and being with the lads in the squad.

“Yes, it’s been tough, but it’s football. Sometimes things like that happen.”

Egan will hope to rekindle his international career in earnest in Thursday’s friendly clash with Andorra and the trip to Hungary which follows five days later.

Should he do so, he could find himself lining up alongside yet more debutants with Kenny having drafted the uncapped Andrew Omobamidele, Jamie McGrath, Daniel Mandroiu, Sam Szmodics and Chiedozie Ogbene into his latest squad, and he has urged the potential newcomers to grasp their chance.

The defender said: “You could be 18 or 32 when you get your chance. It’s all about taking that chance and trying to enjoy it as well.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.