Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis hoping he's caught Martin O'Neill's eye
RONAN Curtis is hoping his eye-catching form for Portsmouth has caught the attention of Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O'Neill.
The former Derry City striker has set League One alight since his arrival from Brandywell Stadium this season, netting five goals and notching up three assists in his opening six league games for Pompey.
And his blistering form has been recognised in his selection in the official Sky Bet EFL ‘team of the week’ announced yesterday with no player from the top four tiers of English football involved in more league goals this season!
Following the news that O’Neill had contacted another in-form ex-Candy Stripe, Michael Duffy last week about a future senior international call-up, Curtis is keeping his fingers crossed he receives a similar phone call in the near future.
“Hopefully Martin O’Neill likes what he sees and calls me up eventually but I’m just enjoying my football,” said Curtis. “Regardless if he does or if he doesn’t call me up, I’m in no rush. I’m just 22 years of age and that time will come hopefully.”
First, however, Curtis has business to attend to with the Ireland U21 panel as they prepare for a double header of fixtures in their UEFA European Championships qualifying campaign against Kosovo and Germany over the next week.
The St Johnston man is in no hurry to break into the senior set-up and is relishing his time with Noel King’s U21 panel who travel to third placed Kosovo on Tuesday ahead of Friday’s match in Mitrovica. (k.o. 6p.m.)
“I’m really enjoying Pompey and hopefully we get through with the U21s. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m really looking forward to the qualifiers. I’m looking forward to meeting up with the boys again. I haven’t seen them for a couple of months so it will be good fun meeting up again.
“Hopefully we can go to the Championships because it would be a great achievement.”
Ireland are currently second in Group Five behind Germany in top spot having played one game less and ahead of Kosovo in third spot. The ‘Boys in Green’ meet the Germans in Tallaght next Tuesday (K.o. 6p.m.) and Curtis is relishing the chance to test himself against one of the best teams in the world at U21 level.
“We’ve done so well recently and want to keep that form going and qualify. The Germany game at home is the biggest game of the year for me. Everyone wants to play the best teams in the world and we’re looking forward to that one.”
Derry City’s Hale brothers, Ronan and Rory, who both scored in the 3-1 win over Iceland in March, also keep their place in the squad as King’s side look to qualify for next June’s U21 European Championship Finals in Italy and San Marino.
Curtis warmed up for Friday’s match in Kosovo with a brace against Plymouth in a 3-0 win - his first goals at Fratton Park as Pompey maintained their impressive start to their League One campaign.
He believes his self-belief is the key to his early season success although he admits he was surprised Kenny Jackett put so much faith in him so soon into his Pompey career,
“I’m over the moon,” he beamed. “Words can’t describe how happy I am right now. I’ve settled in well and we’re really playing as a team so I’m buzzing.
“To be fair, I didn’t think I would’ve played as much as I have been playing but the gaffer and his backroom team have put their trust in me and hopefully I can repay the favour.
“I’ve come over to add goals and assists so I’m doing my job at the minute. I’m buzzing with confidence at the minute, that’s all I can put it down to. I’m scoring and setting up goals but we’re all playing well together. We’re playing as a team who wants to win together.
“I’m trying to create chances for other players as well. Like on Saturday when I set up for Jamel (Lowe) as well. I’m just trying to do as best as I can, work hard and keep my spot.”