Kevin Doyle says that the lack of top-level strikers available to Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is ‘worrying’ but insists that there is a ‘great opportunity’ for someone to fill the void.
Doyle, who is a former striker himself, played 64 times for Ireland, scoring 14 goals before retiring from football in 2017. During his international career the Wexford native played alongside the likes of Robbie Keane, Shane Long and Clinton Morrison among others, but he does not see the same level of competition in the position any more.
Keane retired in 2016 and there has long been a discussion about who will fill his boots, but as yet no one player has emerged as an obvious candidate. There were only three out-and-out strikers in the last Ireland squad and one of them – Daryl Murphy – has retired.
Doyle believes that the squad as a whole is undergoing a process of transition, but believes that the least competitive area of the pitch is attack.
“There’s a great opportunity for someone for all positions, but specifically the centre forwards,” the former Colorado Rapids striker said on Keith Andrews’ Off the Ball show. “Longy (Shane Long) is going to be there, but he’s 31 or around that age so when Longy moves on…
“It’s tough to expect him to just come into the Ireland team and to do well, but it is that change-over and he’ll have that chance.
“You’ve also got Scott Hogan, but he’s been around a few years and been injured.
“It’s a little bit worrying. You know, why don’t we have, five, say. We used to have around five strikers playing consistently at a high level. We don’t seem to have that now.”
O’Neill will have an opportunity to test the waters with new strikers in the upcoming friendly game against Turkey, which takes place on March 23 in Antalya.