Sean Maguire believes the Republic of Ireland have a gem in Callum Robinson and backed his Preston North End team-mate to get better and better on the international stage.

Robinson was the pick of the bunch for the Boys in Green in a laboured 2-0 defeat of Gibraltar on Monday night.

That win leaves Mick McCarthy's men top of Group D with ten points from their first four games and sets them up nicely for a huge September, in which they host highly fancied Switzerland.

No doubt Ireland will have to improve considerably if they are to harbour any realistic hopes of taking anything from that fixture, but Maguire was quick to accentuate the night's major positive: the right-wing showing of Robinson.

"I’ve known Robbo a couple of years now, he's a bubbly character," the Kilkenny man told RTÉ Sport.

"He’s new to this group like I am and he doesn’t shy away from it. You can see his quality on the pitch, he can make something out of nothing.

"Give him time and he will shine on the international stage. You saw glimpses of it tonight, he can turn defenders inside out. He was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

"Robbo, this year especially, started playing as a No 9 and that's where he got a lot of his goals. I like playing with him because we can interchange.

"Hopefully he stays with us at Preston this year," Maguire added of the 24-year-old who has reportedly turned the heads of Premier League clubs after scoring 12 times in the Championship despite being out for a chunk of the campaign with a bad hamstring injury.

"He has a year left on his contract and it’s a big year for him, and a big year for me as well.

"Robbo can be anything he wants to be. I've seen it in games and in training. Hopefully he keeps on improving."

Maguire was full of beans when he came off the bench at the Aviva, but a first goal for his country continues to elude him.

He came on for Scott Hogan in the 66th minute and stretched the stubborn visiting rear-guard with a typically busy shift.

The 25-year-old couldn't get a clear sight at goal though, and the wait for that magic moment goes on. 

"I was hoping to get a sniff but it wasn't meant to be," said the ex-Cork City man, who's been very unlucky with injuries himself over the last 12 months.

"It was good to get another cap. Obviously I was a bit frustrated I couldn’t get my first goal I just have to keep working hard.

"It was good to get through it with no injury issues, a clean sheet and another three points. All that matters in this campaign is that you keep picking up points."