Four-year itch that Ireland are struggling to scratch

Goals win games of football and nobody needs to remind anybody associated with the Republic of Ireland national team that they have not been scoring enough of them lately. The whys and wherefores of such struggles can, and have been, discussed at great length in recent times.

A time for talking has come to an end, with action now required where it matters most – out on the field.

Righting said wrongs will, of course, be easier said than done with there only so deep that a selection talent pool can sink before the bottom is hit. If contenders for attacking berths are not delivering at club level, then an international spark will always be hard to find.

Callum Robinson and Aaron Connolly have hardly set the world alight at West Brom and Middlesbrough this season, despite EFL Championship betting odds fancying both of those clubs to go well this season. Boro are still very much in a promotion battle, with Championship football tips moving in their favour as 4/1 shots to be playing Premier League football in 2022-23.

Adam Idah has seen game time hard to come by at Norwich, Shane Long has missed a lot of football at Southampton and Troy Parrott has never truly sparked into life during a loan spell at MK Dons. Will Keane has been impressing at the same League One level for Wigan, and he may be the next mast that colours are nailed to.

Time to step up

Somebody needs to step up from somewhere as the Ireland camp prepares to watch another World Cup finals from afar later this year. There are Nations League outings to come, before attention that switches to a Euro 2024 qualification campaign.

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If firepower can be found, then dreams of a bright future under Stephen Kenny – who has committed to a new contract – can start to form.

He is being trusted to find a solution to current issues, with Ireland netting more than once in just four of their last 30 games. That run stretches back to a date with the United States on June 2, 2018.

In contests on home soil over the same period of time, the Boys in Green have netted on two or more occasions only once – and that contest came in June 2019 against Gibraltar and required an own goal and a 93rd-minute effort from Robbie Brady in order to get a rare box ticked.

There was also a 90th-minute effort from Alan Judge in the aforementioned clash with the USMNT, which further highlights the issues being endured.

Ireland have taken to home soil on 14 occasions in the last four years and have to start giving a loyal fan base more to shout about.

Kenny believes in those at his disposal and will continue to talk up their potential – and rightly so – but there is no escaping the fact that a troublesome itch will need to be given a serious scratch if Irish supporters are to be given an opportunity to pack collective bags for a trip to Germany in 2024.

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