“I said at the start of the season I wanted 30 goals plus, and that’s my target.”
That was Brentford striker Scott Hogan’s response after he bagged a hat-trick for his club on Saturday against Preston.
The Salford born striker qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents, and is in red hot form for the Championship side, netting six goals in eight league games so far this season.
The 24 year old has worked his way up through the leagues, much like Jamie Vardy. He began his career at Rochdale, and returned there in 2013 after spells at Woodley Sports, FC Halifax Town, Stocksbridge Parts Steels, Ashton United and Hyde.
Hogan then signed for Brentford in 2014 for £750,000, but an anterior cruciate ligament injury hindered his early progress, and he injured the same knee again in April ’15.
However, on his return last season, he scored seven goals in seven games, earning himself a nomination for the April 2016 Championship Player of the Month award in the process.
Hogan has carried that form into the new season, which bodes well for Martin O’Neill and Ireland. The Irish manager is set to announce his squad for the qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova on Friday, and Hogan’s goals won’t have gone unnoticed.
Hogan’s manager Dean Smith isn’t surprised by his form;
“The kid’s just a good player. I said last season that I’d seen him play in League Two and he looked an amazing prospect and Brentford paid money for him then.
He’s come in, suffered a few injuries but come through that and it shows tremendous strength of character to be doing what he’s doing now. His movement is fantastic and his finishing isn’t bad is it.”
The retirement of Robbie Keane has left space for another striker, and Hogan’s pace and sharp finishing could provide the Irish boss with a different option.
Shane Long, Jon Walters and Daryl Murphy have all failed to score for their clubs this season, so Hogan’s form in front of goal could be crucial coming off the bench.
Don’t be surprised to see Hogan included in Friday’s squad.