Steve Nicholson's Tuesday Talk: Call-ups a reward as criticism of striker Sammon has been harsh
CONOR Sammon and Jeff Hendrick have kept their places in Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland squad – and rightly so.
Both have been named in a provisional party of 29 players for back-to-back World Cup qualifiers in Sweden and against Austria in Dublin later this month.
Inclusion is a reward for their performances for Derby County this season and the impression they made in the victory over Poland last month, when they won their first caps.
Sammon started and played the full game. His unselfish work and willingness to give defenders a tough time, physically and with his running, impresses many people, though clearly not all Derby fans.
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But criticism of him has been harsh.
Yes, he should score more goals but so should a number of other Derby players.
Splashing out just over £1m on a striker guarantees little these days and it certainly does not guarantee 15 to 20 goals.
Craig Mackail-Smith cost Brighton & Hove Albion more than twice as much as Sammon did Derby and he is being paid wages far in excess of Derby's purse, yet Mackail-Smith has scored only three goals more than Sammon this season.
Jamie Vardy went for around the same fee as Sammon when he joined Leicester City from Fleetwood Town. Vardy has scored five goals in 28 appearances for the Foxes.
Wolves paid Reading around £6.5m for the services of Kevin Doyle some years ago. He has scored seven times this season, the same as Sammon.
Marvin Sordell has six goals and he cost Bolton Wanderers £3m from Watford just over a year ago, while Nottingham Forest's Simon Cox, a £2m signing from West Bromwich Albion last summer, has only five goals in 33 games.
There, of course, are other examples of strikers doing particularly well.
Glenn Murray has scored 30 goals for Crystal Palace and is having one of those seasons, which can happen with strikers.
Sammon's tally is eight goals and he has been at Derby seven months.
The type of striker he is – and how he fits into Derby's system and style of play – is clear.
When judging players it is important to concentrate on what they can do, not what they struggle with.
There are few complete players in football, never mind the Championship.
Hendrick has impressed following his slow start to the season and the 21-year-old midfielder is right up there when discussion turns to Derby's assets on the pitch.
Clubs will be aware of his progress and should he nail down a regular place in the Republic of Ireland team in the coming months or the next year or so, suitors are likely to come knocking on Derby's door.
Rams skipper Richard Keogh has not made the Republic's latest squad.
Keogh won his first cap at senior level against Poland when he came off the bench late in the game.
He has been ever-present for Derby this season although he has made a few costly slips and he should have done more to prevent Birmingham City's equaliser at the weekend.
But with all due respect to the other central defenders named by the Republic, when I look at the squad I think Keogh is unlucky not to be involved.
I said the same thing back in October and I stand by it now.