Ronan Curtis hopes World Cup campaign brings Ireland a change of fortunes
RONAN CURTIS hopes Republic of Ireland can end their goal scoring drought in Belgrade tonight as the striker goes into the World Cup qualifiers with renewed confidence.
Stephen Kenny’s squad went the entire 2020 campaign without a victory having failed to score in seven of their eight fixtures during the calendar year.
The team’s struggles in front of goal have also been well documented but as they begin their journey towards Qatar 2022 with fixtures against Serbia tonight and then Luxembourg at the Aviva on Saturday, Curtis hopes the competition brings a change of fortunes.
“Being back with the squad and with the lads is an amazing feeling,” said Curtis. “It’s seven times now I’ve been called up and to be called up for World Cup qualifiers is a really good achievement and something I should be proud about. My family is really proud about it too, it’s an amazing feeling.
“We have a big couple of games coming up and we need to do the best we can to get a couple of results which will help us qualify for the World Cup.
“I’m really looking forward to it and the squad is excited for the game.”
Curtis goes into the Ireland camp in top form, fresh from Portsmouth’s 2-1 win over Ipswich at Fratton Park last weekend.
The former Derry City man set up both goals and he’s hoping he can deliver for his country if called upon tonight.
“I try to add that to my game and work on it in every training session and every game. I try to get an assist or a goal and play on the front foot.
"I’m excited and confident and looking forward to playing for Ireland again.”
Ireland winger James McClean has missed the last six games for Stoke City as he recovers from a foot injury but he’s joined up with the squad and took part in training sessions in Manchester on Monday.
Curtis could get the nod to replace the Derry man on the left side and insists he’s itching to represent his country again.
“Everyone here wants to play. It’s a big squad so someone has got to be left out. We’re a team and we’ve all got to be ready and itching to get on that pitch when called upon.”
Ireland boss Kenny is still looking for his first win since taking the reins last year but Curtis believes the team just needs a bit of luck as they look to consign recent problems to the history books.
“Last year was a tough one to go without a win and going through the whole Covid situation so it was really hard for players, staff and the management.
“This time around we’ve got a good depth to the squad and hopefully we can turn that around and get that win, starting on Wednesday.
“All that’s in the past. We’ve got to concentrate on the present now and the future. Our initial focus is on Wednesday night and hopefully we can get it done.”