Teenager Jason Knight is hoping for a change of fortune in his fledgling international career as the Republic of Ireland attempt to end their drought.
Ireland bring down the curtain on their second Nations League campaign against Bulgaria in Dublin on Wednesday evening, having won none of the nine games they have played in the competition to date.
The most recent fixture, Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Wales in Cardiff, extended new manager Stephen Kenny’s wait for a first victory to seven games and they have not scored in the last six, but 19-year-old Derby midfielder Knight is confident their luck will turn sooner rather than later.
Asked what needed to change, he said: “Just a bit of luck sometimes to fall our way. The application and desire is there for all to see, but we’re struggling to put the ball in the back of the net at the moment.
“Hopefully things will change soon. It’s going to be a big game on Wednesday evening. We know we have to go out there and get a result.
“We will go into any game with confidence and that will be no different on Wednesday. We need to do our work in the analysis and go out and be confident and try get the result.”
That may be easier said than done for an Ireland team which have won just three of their last 20 competitive games under Kenny and predecessor Mick McCarthy and scored only 10 goals in the process.
The psychological burden of that run is growing with each passing failure to end it and Knight admits there is only one way to deal with that.
He said: “It’s just down to us as a team and individuals to work hard on the training pitch and try to put it right in the next game.”
Knight won his second senior cap as a substitute in Cardiff as Kenny continued to blood a new generation and he could have a role to against the Bulgarians, with midfielders Jeff Hendrick and Jayson Molumby both suspended.
The last few weeks has proved to be something of a whirlwind for a man who was preparing for the under-21s’ vital Euro 2021 qualifier against Iceland when he got the call to step up.
He should perhaps not have been surprised – he received a similar summons ahead of his debut in Finland last month while on duty in Italy with the under-21s.
Knight said: “I started out in Italy and then had to travel back to Dublin to travel out to Helsinki, so it was a crazy couple of days.
“But it was an enjoyable experience and I made my senior debut then, which was great. The senior teams is where everyone wants to be and where everyone wants to play.”
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