Shane Long is much-loved figure among Ireland fans but with his recent lack of goals, when he represents one of the team’s only attacking threats, the Boys in Green are in trouble. With a new season on the horizon, we look at five attackers, including possible new recruits, who could solve our international goal scoring crisis.
Number 5. Aaron Drinan
A bit of a wildcard pick here. The 22-year-old moved to Ipswich in 2017 with Mick McCarthy, the then Town manager, waxing lyrical about his potential. It hasn’t worked out for Drinan yet. He’s still waiting to make a first team appearance for his parent club and loan spells in Sweden, Scotland and the National League have hardly showed him to be prolific.
He did, however, have a good spell back at Waterford in 18/19 when he grabbed seven goals in 18 appearances. His all-round game and attitude have been praised too and the Ipswich hierarchy think a lot of him.
The Tractor Boys started their first pre-season game and Aaron netted twice against Colchester before playing the first 45 at Tottenham. Given the salary caps coming into play, he could get an opportunity in League One and if chances are created, he may well hit the net a fair few times.
Number 4. Patrick Bamford
It has been well documented that Leeds man Bamford is open to representing Ireland despite having played for England at various youth levels. Everything looked set for him to get a call-up back in March 2019, but it never materialised. The conversations that revealed his desire to play for Ireland, who he qualifies for through grandparents, were held with McCarthy.
There have obviously been managerial changes since then with Stephen Kenny now in the hot seat. Should we expect him to be looking at Bamford, 26, closely? The one time Chelsea youngster has a good strike rate in the Championship having bagged a total of 61 goals – and 15 assists – in 167 appearances. His goals helped Leeds to the title last season too.
That means he’ll get a crack at the Premier League. If Kenny wants Bamford, he needs to nail him down quickly though because if he gets on a hot streak early doors then we might see a repeat of the Declan Rice fiasco.Embed from Getty Images
Number 3. Aaron Connolly
Connolly already has a couple of caps to his name but is yet to find the net. For Brighton, he had made a handful of appearances early last season but his name really hit the headlines with a brace against Tottenham in October. He continued to feature regularly after that with a total of 19 appearances. He only managed to add one further goal though.
Connolly possesses a good work rate and smart movement, but goals are lacking at present. To be fair, it is probably harsh to judge him on that measure when he’s feeding off scraps.
That was sometimes the case last season. Graham Potter is a fan of football on the deck though and the addition of creative midfielder Adam Lallana to the Seagulls squad should help with the chances created. If Connolly can get some confidence in his boots, then who knows where he’ll stop?
Number 2. Adam Idah
Nineteen-year-old Idah has already proven himself capable of finding the net in green with 23 goals in 40 games for the various youth teams. Now comes a big season in his career. He needs to start notching in senior football. He headed to East Anglia back in 2017 from College Corinthians but time on the grass has been limited with no loan spells.
Last season he turned out 12 times for Norwich as they tumbled out of the Premier League, but it only amounted to 218 minutes. Mind you, he did find the net three times in as many FA cup appearances.
With the Canaries back in the Championship, Idah simply has to play and a goal in the first pre-season match will go some way to helping his case. If he doesn’t feature, then he should be knocking Daniel Farke’s door down. Farke is keen to protect the youngster but if you’re good enough, you’re old enough whilst any concerns over his physicality will be overcome in a demanding, combative league.
Number 1. Troy Parrott
If you believe the hype, Troy Parrott might be the generational star Ireland have been crying out for. He is just 18-years-old, however, and unproven at any real level. That said, he has already made his Ireland bow having played an hour against New Zealand back in November.
For Tottenham, he has banged goal after goal in at youth level with an average of finding the net every 49 minutes last season. A handful of first team appearances – only amounting to 95 minutes admittedly – have yet to yield a scoring contribution.
He is clearly highly rated at Spurs but Jose Mourinho doesn’t think he’s ready to play understudy to Harry Kane. The result? A loan move to Millwall. The Lions finished eighth last season and manager Gary Rowett will be aiming to be in and around the play-offs in 20/21 despite being on all sports quizzes as favourites to rank as a mid-table side.
Regardless, Parrott will get a chance to shine in senior football and if he can live up to the promise then we’re in for a treat because he ticks all the boxes to make it as a complete forward.