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Sammie Szmodics: Blackburn's top-scorer eager to impress in Republic friendlies

Sammie Szmodics scores for Blackburn Rovers against Plymouth Argyle earlier this month
Sammie Szmodics scores for Blackburn Rovers against Plymouth Argyle earlier this month

Blackburn Rovers striker Sammie Szmodics is targeting a Republic of Ireland debut in upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland.

The 28-year-old, the top scorer in the Championship this season with 21 goals, has been called up to the squad twice before but withdrew on both occasions.

"I've got to take the opportunity with both hands," said Szmodics.

"With the form and amount of games I've played, and seeing others make their debut, it's made me hungry."

Szmodics received a first call-up in 2021 but pulled out with a shoulder problem, then withdrew due to personal reasons after being included in the squad for the Euro qualifiers against Greece and Gibraltar in October.

He missed out on a place in Stephen Kenny's squad the following month but Republic interim boss John O'Shea has handed the former Colchester United and Peterborough United forward another chance to impress.

He added: "I was disappointed for the November camp that I didn't get the call, but ultimately it's the manager's decision. I thought I was doing enough at club level, but he chose to go with other people.

"When I got the phone call from John [O'Shea], it was a no-brainer for me. I am excited to hopefully get it [a debut] on the weekend."

The Irish will play both friendlies in Dublin with Belgium first on Saturday before they face Switzerland three days later.

Colchester-born Szmodics is also qualified to represent Hungary but he dismissed speculation of a switch of allegiance.

Recent comments from their manager Marco Rossi suggested the Szmodics camp had leaked to the media an offer of talks with Hungary.

"It was all nonsense, really. My grandad was Hungarian - that's where the surname comes from.

"It is just something that never interested me. Their manager has come out and said what he has said about me. I am not really sure where it came from as I have never spoken to anyone from that country.

"I am not really sure where it has come from because I am fully focused on playing for Ireland. I sorted my passport for Ireland years ago and I've been fully focused on getting into the camps and getting into the squads, and hopefully I'll do it this weekend."