Chris Maguire on his stellar Sunderland cameo, proving a point and Portsmouth selection hopes

Chris Maguire hopes he has played his way into the starting XI for the play-off semi final second leg at Fratton Park on Thursday night.

Monday, 13th May 2019, 6:26 pm
Chris Maguire fires Sunderland into the lead against Portsmouth on Saturday night

Maguire admits he was frustrated not to be given the nod by Jack Ross when Aiden McGeady was forced to withdraw just moments before the game began.

Ross instead gave Lynden Gooch a chance to impress but Maguire announced his second-half arrival in spectacular fashion, scoring a fine volley to give Sunderland the crucial lead ahead of the second leg.

It could have been an even more spectacular cameo, the popular forward going on to strike the post from distance.

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“I felt I was ready to start, of course – I finished the game at Southend and I’ve felt since I came back that I’ve worked hard to get back to where I am but that’s the manager’s decision and I respect that," Maguire said.

"It’s not a time to go and ask why.

“I’ve got to do the business when I get the nod and I feel that hopefully I’ve done that and proved to the manager I’ve done it.

“You’ve got to be professional. Yeah, I want to start every game but when you don’t you want to come on and make a point to say that I want to be in the team and hopefully I’ve done that.

“That’s what the manager wants me to do [prove a point]," he said.

"There’s two ways you can go about it, you can feel sorry for yourself and then when you get the opportunity you’re not quite at it or you can go out and prove your point.

“I wasn’t happy but I knew I would get the chance to get on and I felt I showed the fans and the manager I was in the right frame of mind.

“That’s all you can do when you’re a sub. You’ve got to come on and make your mark or try and help the team out and to come on and get the winner and the way it went in, I’m obviously delighted.

“The main thing is that we’ve got the win that we needed."

Maguire will be a strong contender for a start on Thursday night, with Ross hailing his contribution from the bench.

"We know Chris is capable of that,” said Ross.

“When you bring him on you hope he will produce that moment of quality either creating something or scoring.

“In that part of the game we were on the front foot, in the ascendancy, and you have to capitalise on that

“It was a terrific strike, a terrific goal, from a player who is obviously capable of that.

“He is still working his way back to full fitness. He was always going to come on the park fairly early, how we thought the game would pan out.

“He’s given himself an opportunity to play again on Thursday, that’s all you can ask him to do.

“From the moment he came on the pitch his overall effect on the game was good, even when we asked him to drop into a wide area when we went down to ten men.”

Maguire was thrilled to see Sunderland finally get the better of Portsmouth and says the second leg is the kind of game you live for.

“They were a little bit of a bogey team because we hadn’t beaten them so when you go down to ten men with [more than] 15 minutes left you know they’re going to come at us with long balls but we showed great team spirit with the backing of the fans to cheer us on," he said.

"I think everybody sensed when they hit the bar with a free-kick that it was going to go our way.

“We’re halfway there, nothing’s done, but we feel good about ourselves and we’ll take that into the next leg.

"We’d not beaten them yet but I thought it was vital what we showed when we were down to ten men. They’ll know that, they’ll know they’re in for a real game on Thursday because they’ve got to come out of the traps.

“It was great to get the win in front of our home fans and hopefully we’ll give them something to cheer about come Thursday.

“It’s games like this you live for," he added.

"Every footballer wants to be involved in games like this and there’s no better way to do it [win promotion] than the play-offs. If you can win them, it’s a great occasion.”