Johnny Giles and former Leeds United team-mate Paul Reaney at a Navan Whites Supporters Club event in the Newgrange Hotel last year. PHOTO; DAVID MULLEN/WWW.CYBERIMAGES.NET.

Ferguson the 'real McCoy' says Irish soccer legend

Johnny Giles has full faith Meath player's ability and attitude

Irish soccer legend Johnny Giles believes Evan Ferguson is the "real McCoy" when it comes to strikers.

Giles - who part of the great Leeds Utd team of the 1960s and '70s and was one of Ireland's greatest ever players - says he has total faith in Ferguson's ability.

He says Ferguson's current goal drought (he hasn't found the net in over 20 games) is just a blip in a career full of promise.

"He is excellent. He is a real player, he's going to be a real player and he'll get better and better," Giles told Nathan Murphy on Newstalk's 'Off the Ball' programme.

Giles - who also managed the Republic of Ireland between 1973 and 1980s - pointed out how Ferguson's club Brighton & Hove Albion were having "mixed times" suggesting that the drought the player has endured might not be all down to him.

"When you are in his position as a centre-forward you are definitely dependent, or depending on people around you. They're finishers, they don't call them finishers for nothing. He is a finisher and he's really, really good."

Ferguson's spell without a goal continued in recent friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland.

The Bettystown 19-year-old missed a penalty against Belgium slipping just as he was about to kick the ball and his shot was comfortably saved.

On the overall balance of play, however, Giles was greatly impressed by Ferguson's attitude and response to that setback.

"Looking at him play in the Irish team in the two matches I saw him playing in I was really, really impressed with him because he hasn't been scoring goals and there are a lot of pressure on lads who haven't been scoring goals.

"Then he misses a penalty, more pressure on, but from then on he was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I would have no doubt about him.

"If you are talking about clubs in England, say Manchester United or Liverpool, if they were going to buy a top striker I'd buy him, without question."

Giles added how strikers, even the best of them, go through barren spells. It's when they are not scoring their true character is revealed, he suggested.

"They all don't have a good time but it's when you see them when they are not having a good time is when you really judge them."

Giles compared Ferguson to one of the greatest strikers in English football in the 1970s - his Leeds United colleague Allan Clarke - who was never phased by missing a chance.

"You can see it in them they don't shy away from it. Somebody might be having a bad day, some might shy away from it but no, he's the real McCoy in my opinion.

"It was interesting to see his response to it (missing the penalty). I would go with him any time."

Giles felt that if Ferguson was playing in a team like Manchester City, with so many world class player around him, he would score as many goals as the super prolific Erling Haaland who bagged over 50 goals last season.

"If he played for Manchester City for example I think he would be up there with the best. It's all mentality, 90 per cent of it is mentality.

"He (Ferguson) is an all round player who will get better. If I was the manager of a top club I would buy him straight away."

Evan Ferguson can become one of the top strikers in the game believes Giles.