Mar 1 2012 The Liverpool Post
ADAM McGURK’S ambitions to finish the season with Tranmere on a high have been given a little extra fuel, thanks to an international incentive.
The 23-year-old from Larne has every reason to believe his career with Northern Ireland is unfinished business after he was put on standby, together with Rovers teammate Robbie Weir, for the friendly international against Norway this week.
The call came as a surprise. And even though McGurk wasn’t required for duty in the game at Windsor Park, Belfast on Wednesday, he is drawing encouragement from seeing his name put in the frame by chief coach Michael O’Neill.
McGurk has caps from under-16 level up to under-21s. He said: “I was proud and a bit surprised when I was told about going on stand-by because I’ve been out of the international scene for quite a while. It is very encouraging to know they are actually thinking about me now.
“I did not play so much at the under-19 to under-21 levels because of the injury problems I had during my time at Aston Villa.
“Senior level is where you want to be and hopefully I can get there.”
The qualifying group games for the 2014 World Cup, which begin in September, now become a target to aim for. Earning a call-up to the full international squad will mean putting in good performances with Tranmere and adding to a season’s haul of five goals, McGurk acknowledges.
“It is goals that get you noticed,” he said. “My performances overall have been good but I have been a bit sloppy with my finishing at times. I should have had more goals. But it’s no good looking back. Hopefully I can get a run going.”
McGurk is by no means alone in voicing his frustration with Tranmere’s modest strike rate this season.
The team’s record of goals conceded is bettered by only three teams outside the top six. Converting that defensive strength into results is proving difficult however, when the goals are going in at the other end at an average of less than one per game.
McGurk accepts Tranmere’s problem over much of the season has been in converting opportunities rather than creating them.
“All season we have been carving out chances,” McGurk said. “In many of our games we’ve been creating three or four opportunities that we should have been taking. We have not been taking them, whether it’s for reasons of confidence or whatever. But we have to keep creating them and believing we can take them.
“What we are missing, I think, is that we have not gone out and tanked a team by three or four goals this season. There have been a lot of tight games. There have been games in which we were ahead and there was the potential for us to dominate and get three or four goals. We created chances but we did not score them.”
Tranmere’s failure to score at Oldham Athletic last Saturday resulted in another single goal defeat. The second half of the game was played out to a background of non-stop chants from a section of the 582 travelling supporters calling for the dismissal of manager Les Parry.
Parry, while accepting the supporters have the right to voice their opinions, made the point that it would have been more helpful if the fans saved their protest to the final minutes of the game and supported the team through the second half in their efforts to score an equaliser.
McGurk says he hopes supporters will rally around as Tranmere battle to pull clear of the danger zone during a busy run of eight fixtures in March, beginning with Saturday’s visit to bottom club Chesterfield.
“We have got to keep believing and the fans have to keep believing,” McGurk said. “I know things can get frustrating for them as well but we all have to stick together. Negativity is not going to help one bit. We need to pull together, for the fans to be positive and for us to be positive and go out and do the business.
“There’s no point worrying about what’s happened in the last couple of months, we’ve got to focus on having a successful end to the season.
“We have a lot of games coming up against teams around us in the table. They are the teams we have to beat, or at least make sure we are not getting beaten by them.”