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Stephen gets his wish

Kenny's relief as Irish 'lucky charm' McGoldrick stays on

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McGoldrick has only lost one game playing for Ireland

McGoldrick has only lost one game playing for Ireland

SPORTSFILE

McGoldrick has only lost one game playing for Ireland

It would be an act of disrespect to label a fine player as a mere 'lucky charm'.

But it's a fact that, until last month's defeat to Finland, David McGoldrick had never been on the losing side with Ireland in a competitive match.

And as McGoldrick (32) prepares to lead the line for Ireland in Slovakia tomorrow, Stephen Kenny is relieved that his own fears of the striker stepping away from international football so he could focus on his club career, and his family, were unfounded.

"He's very positive about playing for Ireland," Kenny says of McGoldrick.

"When I took over initially, Sheffield United looked like they were getting into Europe at that stage ... the extra games.

"He's a family man, has got a good-sized family. He's 32, nearly 33. You wonder whether a player would say 'I've to focus on my club'. That happens a lot at that age group.

"But that wasn't what I got from him at all - I got quite the opposite," added Kenny, who wondered if McGoldrick's past relationship with Mick McCarthy, from their time together at Ipswich Town, would also be a factor as Kenny lacked that link with the player.

"Mick had him at Ipswich, and all of that, so when I took over I wondered in my own head: is he going to relax and want to take a bit of a back seat, focus on club football, particularly with Sheffield United playing in the Premier League for the first time, and himself, and all of that," added Kenny.

"That wasn't the case at all. He was absolutely desperate to play. I was very enthused having spoken to him as he was just so enthusiastic about playing, really, really hungry to play.

"Obviously, he is trying to move to the level that he finished on last season because of the injury and other factors."

McGoldrick's form and fitness for his club this season is a boost, the veteran on target in the Blades' last game before the international break, Sunday's 2-1 loss to Arsenal.

Handed a debut by Martin O'Neill way back in 2014, McGoldrick only came to the fore, really, in the qualifiers for Euro 2020.

"We've been very dependent on David McGoldrick in the previous campaign. When he was missing, we lost the game. He seemed to be a massive loss, we needed to increase our options in that way," added Kenny, confirming that he's very unlikely to play two men up front with the attack line for Ireland tomorrow likely to have McGoldrick at the centre, possibly Aaron Connolly and Callum Robinson assisting out wide.

"People are undecided, 'what sort of player is he?' I suppose that he has been an adaptable player," Kenny added. "In a front two, he drops off and that's what a 3-5-2 gives you the opportunity of doing.

"He can link up the play, which is one of his best attributes. David can do that with his back to goal and can see key opportunities for other players.

"So he is creative and a provider of opportunities while he also knits the play together.

"He becomes important when he is not there because of what he does. He enhances teams and makes them cohesive. He becomes the focal point and he is streetwise, uses his body well and has a great first touch. He is also aware of the players playing off him.

"What David sees is players around him with his peripheral vision.

"He becomes important when he is not there because of what he does. He enhances teams and makes them cohesive.

"He becomes the focal point and he is streetwise, uses his body well and has a great first touch."