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And while Hogan’s Irish involvement may begin in the not-so-glamorous settings of a city centre passport office, the first chapter could possibly be played out on the biggest stage in Russia next summer. Eventually, he arrives to what he calls “Northern Ireland’s most popular attraction”.Sean Maguire has been jumping through hoops to get the attention of the Ireland manager and it took the former Cork City striker 20 hard-earned league goals and a move across the water to Preston to finally receive his call up to the international squad.But while Maguire’s inclusion made the headlines at the press conference to announce the 39-man provisional squad, the real story of this early season get-together was the news that Scott Hogan had decided to declare for Ireland.
While the Jack Grealish saga again shone a light on the oft-mocked eligibility rules, the reality of the situation saw a player of obvious Irish heritage facing a genuine dilemma over which country to choose.
Hogan, of course, has been on O’Neill’s radar since lighting up the Championship at Brentford last season, however, the striker played a cautious hand by putting an international decision on hold as he concentrated on returning to full fitness following a string of injuries.
The striker also had his eye on a move to the Premier League and no doubt, harboured hopes of breaking into the England squad, and the cynic might suggest Hogan was well aware that, regarding international commitments, time was on his side with the World Cup qualifying campaign still in its infancy.
Hogan can bring the energy that the Ireland manager craves within his side, while also capable of unsettling defenders and most importantly, possessing a natural ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
The Aston Villa forward is certainly not the answer to fill the obvious void left since the retirement of Keane, but Hogan will add to the attacking collective and bring other aspects and attributes that should make this Ireland side more potent in the final third.