Daryl Murphy takes a shrewd punt on scoring ability
PROFESSIONAL footballers admitting to gambling on the game is very much a no-no these days.
But Ireland striker Daryl Murphy (left) is pleased to confess that a punt on his own goal-scoring abilities - for charity, it has to be said - has already come off when it comes to his club career.
And now it's just a matter of whether Martin O'Neill, in his plans for Sunday's game with Poland, will take a punt on Ipswich striker Murphy, whose goals (23 in the league) have not only made him the leading Irish scorer on the club scene at the moment but also the most prolific forward in any professional league in the UK.
Since he first made the Ireland squad nine years ago, Murphy has only ever played in three competitive games and never started a qualifier, so it would be a big leap of faith from O'Neill to start Murphy against the Poles.
And with fellow strikers Robbie Keane, Shane Long (both scored for their clubs last weekend) and Jon Walters ahead of him, Murphy accepts that a run off the bench could be his best bet against Poland.
"You hope that you're going to play at some stage, even a start would be great, but I still have competition from players here," says the Waterford man.
"I'm under no illusions that just because I'm scoring goals I'm going to play. We've got some very good players here that play at a higher level than I do.
"It depends how the game goes and it depends what the manager wants to do. If I'm on the bench or whatever and it's 0-0 and there's ten minutes to go, he might think I have a chance of coming on and doing something, then brilliant. But the result is all that matters really. We have a week now together to prepare for that and I'm sure we'll all be raring to go," added Murphy.
But he does have that superb goals record with Ipswich in his favour, as he's already exceeded his own expectations.
"We did a thing for charity at the start of the season," he says of his club. "The gaffer asked us to put £100 in and set your goal target. If you don't get it, the money goes to charity. I think I passed that (17 goals) in December but I'll still give the money to charity," he laughed.
"We've still got seven games to go. I'm on 23 goals for the season and I obviously want to get as many as I can."
But even though he seems resigned to a bench role, Murphy is happy with his lot, having won back his place in the Ireland squad recently after a long spell out in the cold.
And his current form with a promotion-chasing Ipswich underlines how patience can pay off. As an example of how a player's career can turn out, Murphy is now in the Ireland squad and could end up in the Premier League with his club next season.
Meanwhile, Joe O Cearuil, a player who (like Murphy) made his senior Ireland debut against Ecuador in 2007 was also in the news (of sorts) this week, having made the move to Conference club Dover Athletic yesterday, his career in a downward slide.
Yet patience has paid off for Murphy, who has benefited from the support of Mick McCarthy (right) at Ipswich.
"The manager has faith in me and I know I will play and will start every game, that gives you confidence, I always tried to do the best I could but this season, for whatever reason, I have scored a lot more goals," said Murphy.
"Confidence is high from the season so far, we're doing well at club level and hopefully I can take that on to international level."