Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane hopes to end Ireland’s drought tonight

Conor Hourihane is hoping the Republic of Ireland’s drought will end against Bulgaria as they attempt to lay a foundation for the next World Cup qualifying campaign.

Republic of Ireland's Conor Hourihane
Republic of Ireland's Conor Hourihane

Stephen Kenny’s men face the Bulgarians in Dublin this evening yet to win any of the seven games they have played under his charge to date and having failed to score in the last six.

That has seen them slip out of the Euro 2020 play-offs in Slovakia and slump to within a point of the foot of Nations League Group B4, and a squad ravaged by coronavirus protocols and injuries is desperate for a lift ahead of a new raft of qualifiers next year.

Villa midfielder Hourihane said: “That’s the ideal situation. Scoring goals is a big part of winning games, there’s no doubt about that, when you don’t score too many and you concede a couple, it’s a recipe for disaster, really.

“We need to score a few goals, that’s for sure, we need to be more advanced in our play and more forward-thinking in our play.

“We have created chances, there’s no doubt about that, we’re just unfortunate not to have to taken a couple.

“I was guilty of one myself against Slovakia when I should have scored and that might have got the ball rolling, but hopefully things will change for us.

“Hopefully it will be Wednesday night and hopefully we’ll score a few goals and we’ll get that result that we’re craving.”

Both nations have seen their squads severely depleted – Bulgaria will be without nine players after goalkeeper Hristiyan Vasilev, defender Dimitar Velkovski and captain Vasil Bozhikov became the latest to test positive for Covid-19, while Ireland’s Matt Doherty and James McClean have joined Callum Robinson and Alan Browne in self-isolation for the same reason.

Kenny was robbed of eight players last month under strict coronavirus regulations, and Hourihane admits the pandemic is a source of constant concern for he and his team-mates.

He said: “You want the negative result back, you want the text from the doc or whatever. Everyone is eager and wanting that.

“I suppose in the back of everyone’s mind when someone is positive on the trip, you are fully aware of how this virus works and it can spread around, so yes, it hasn’t been an easy week, it hasn’t been an easy camp.

“But everyone here will be wanting to make a impression and shine. That’s what happens in football, chances can come around in strange times and lads will now be wanting to prove to the manager what they’re all about.”

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