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Daryl Murphy hopes to make his mark for Republic of Ireland and Newcastle

Daryl Murphy will head into World Cup qualification battle in Serbia dreaming of both Russia and the Premier League.

The 33-year-old Republic of Ireland striker finished the Euro 2016 finals as Martin O'Neill's first-choice frontman, starting the victory over Italy which secured the nation's passage from the group stage and the last-16 clash with hosts France.

He was belatedly re-united with his international team-mates this week after securing a move from Ipswich to Newcastle and is now hoping to continue on the upward curve his career has taken in recent seasons.

As he prepared for Monday night's opening qualifier in Serbia, Murphy reflected on his efforts in France during the summer and said: "It obviously gives you confidence when you play at that level against players of that calibre.

"I thought I did okay and held my own in both games I played, so it gives you a boost. They are very hard games to play in, but it was good.

"I'll have some great memories for years to come of playing in some very big games. The Italy game, to know I was starting and to play and be involved in that win was brilliant, and then to keep my place a few days after and play against France, bar the result, it was brilliant for me."

Ireland head for Belgrade as they set out on the road to the 2018 finals in Russia boosted by what they achieved in France, but acutely aware of the page which has been turned following the retirements from international football of Shay Given and Robbie Keane.

Murphy said: "It's a bit quieter, to be honest with you, because they are big characters to have around and they're a massive loss to us. But we just have to get on with it now."

Keane's goals in particular will be missed - he scored 68 in his 146 appearances for his country - and Murphy, who is yet to register after 23 appearances, admits the task of replacing him in huge.

He said: "I don't think anyone could ever fill those boots from Robbie, but with the players we have, we will obviously try our best. We have got a good squad of players who can play and compete."

Murphy will also face a new challenge when he returns from Ireland duty as he joins Newcastle's fight for an immediate return to the top flight.

Such was the rush to get the deal done before he headed for Dublin that he is yet to meet his new team-mates.

But he admitted the offer to head for the north-east, where he spent five years with Sunderland earlier in his career, was one he simply could not refuse despite Mick McCarthy's desperation to keep him.

He said: "Obviously it wasn't easy, but as I said to the manager, I said, 'I can't turn down this opportunity, it's not going to happen to me again', and I think he understood that. Obviously he didn't want me to go, but I think he understood that I'm not going to get that chance again."

Murphy could run into one of his new club-mates, Aleksandar Mitrovic, before he heads back to England, although he is not yet sure if he will seek out the Serbia striker after the game.

He said with a smile: "We'll see how the result goes first."


From Belfast Telegraph