PRESTON NORTH END manager Alex Neil has expressed confidence that Sean Maguire will soon find himself back among the goals as the Republic of Ireland striker bids to bring an end to his current barren spell.

Maguire struck the woodwork twice last weekend as Preston went down 3-1 at home to Queens Park Rangers in the Championship.

The 25-year-old has now gone three months without a goal, having not scored in his last 16 games – a run that stretches back to 10 December.

However, he continues to feature prominently for his club, with Saturday’s 90-minute outing against QPR marking his 35th appearance of the season, 31 of which have been starts.

“It has been testing for Sean but I would like to think the amount of times I’ve played him shows the amount of faith I have in him,” Neil said of Maguire in the Lancashire Post.

“Sean puts in a great shift for the team and I think he has got goals in him. Recently he has been really unfortunate – the QPR game summed it up for him.”

Maguire, who scored his first senior international goal against New Zealand in November, will hope that his ongoing drought won’t cost him a place in the Ireland squad for the Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia, which is due to be named on Friday.

The Kilkenny native will look to break his duck when Preston resume their bid for promotion with a trip to relegation threatened Luton Town on Saturday.

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Despite losing four of their last five games in the Championship, Alex Neil’s side continue to occupy the final play-off place.

Neil added: “What I expect from players is to go out and do your best. If you do your best I can’t ask anymore. Sean does that and that is why he plays nearly every week. He’s just been unfortunate.

“As a striker and a forward in general, you go through spells where you score goals and then through dry patches. You hit the post, hit the bar, then what happens is one goes in off your backside and you go on a little run.

“At the start of the season he scored three in six, there was no problem with Sean then. On Saturday until we went two up front, I thought he was excellent. His movement was good, his link-up play – in terms of retaining the ball and popping it off – was good. Sean’s movement down the sides caused problems, he kept things alive for us.”

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