Ronan Curtis determined to make impression on Stephen Kenny in Finland

Striker Ronan Curtis understands he must work his ‘socks off’ in the Ireland camp ahead of tonight’s clash with Finland if he’s to cement a regular place under Stephen Kenny.

Ronan Curtis
Ronan Curtis

The former Derry City forward is hoping to benefit from his ‘surprise’ late call-up for the UEFA Nations League clash in Helsinki.

He’s found himself down the pecking order in the senior international squad behind the likes of established Premier League stars, Aaron Connolly (Brighton), David McGoldrick (Sheffield United), Shane Long (Southampton) and Championship regulars, Calum Robinson (West Brom), Adam Idah (Norwich) and Derry man, James McClean (Stoke City).

Fellow League of Ireland graduates, Daryl Horgan and Sean Maguire, were re-introduced into the international fold for Sunday’s scoreless draw against Wales at the Aviva Stadium which had provided some encouragement for Curtis.

And when he received the phone call on Sunday Curtis was delighted to be welcomed back into the set-up and he’s determined to show Kenny he has plenty to offer.

He knows he must work harder than most to earn a regular place in the Ireland team given he’s in direct competition with players plying their trade in the top leagues in England but the Portsmouth wideman is hoping he can show how much it means to him to represent his country.

“It’s unfortunate with the situation that’s gone on with Covid but the main thing is for everyone to stay safe. It’s been tough but hopefully I can take the opportunity now.

“It’s a bit hard when there are players in my position and most of them are in the ‘Prem’ and they’re two steps ahead of me,” said Curtis. “But I’m not going to stop working hard and I’ll bring something different.”

Ireland have scored just one goal in the four games under Kenny’s new regime so far with Derry man, Shane Duffy the only player to register with his late equaliser against Bulgaria in Sofia.

Curtis, who netted twice as Portsmouth defeated Southend 3-0 in the EFL Trophy at Roots Hall last week, hopes he can help provide an alternative attacking outlet for Kenny’s troops.

“I’ll work my socks off for the lads first and foremost and whatever comes after that, whether it’s goals or whatever, then great but I have to focus on my work rate first and hopefully it comes together after that.”

Curtis is only 24 years-old and hopeful he will have plenty more opportunities to add to his three international caps.

“I’m only 24 and I always wanted to be like the Robbie Keanes and players like that who have loads of caps and score lots of goals for their country.”

Having watched Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the European Championships end after a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out in Bratislava last Thursday, Curtis was hugely disappointed.

However, he’s seen enough in games against Slovakia and Wales to see the improvements made by Kenny and his staff and he’s excited to be a part of it.

“As a young lad, playing at World Cups, the Euros - major tournaments - it’s what you dream of and it would’ve been lovely to get there. For a small country like Ireland it would be amazing to get there with this group of boys.

“They deserved to win the other night. They hit the post, created chances but you’ve got to take those chances in international football. They didn’t deserve to go out on pens. It was horrible. They picked themselves up with a good result and performance against Wales so hopefully a win is coming for us.

“The top teams nowadays pass the ball well, it’s not route one anymore so it’s good to watch. Hopefully I can come into that and bring something new. Hopefully I can get on the pitch and do something against Finland. We need to get some points on the table. Hopefully we can get the win.”