Last Saturday the only Irishmen to find the net in England's top two divisions were Jeff Hendrick for Newcastle United at Wolves, and defender Jimmy Dunne, who hit the target to spark QPR's comeback win against Preston in the Championship.

In League One the returns were a little better.

Sammie Szmodics scored twice for Peterborough, though they still lost 3-2 to Bristol City. Daryl Horgan found the net and shone throughout Wycombe's thrilling 4-3 win over Morecambe.

Anthony Scully scored a late penalty to earn Lincoln City a 2-2 draw with Plymouth Argyle. And Will Keane was on the mark for Wigan Athletic again as they got past Gillingham 2-0.

Six players across three divisions, and of that six only three are in Stephen Kenny's squad for Saturday’s trip to Azerbaijan: Hendrick, Horgan and Keane.

This is not an earth-shattering observation. Ireland have issues in front of goal. We're stating the obvious, but it is a problem that will continue to hold Kenny’s team back as long as it lingers - therefore it's a problem that's impossible to ignore.

Addressing it has been a conundrum Ireland managers have had to wrestle with even before Robbie Keane called it a day five years ago.

When Ireland finished second behind Serbia in Group D of the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign they had the third lowest tally in the goals scored column, ahead of Georgia and Moldova. Under Mick McCarthy for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, only Gibraltar scored fewer goals - while Denmark bagged 16 more.

The flip side to this is that although Ireland were lacking in creativity in those campaigns, they didn't concede much either - the 5-1 play-off thumping at the hands of the Danes being the anomaly.

Striking the balance between playing a more expansive style while maintaining defensive solidity has been an awkward challenge that Kenny has yet to nail. His side have shipped eight goals in five games - far too much for a team so goal shy.

The five goals they have scored in Group A have come from Alan Browne, James Collins, John Egan, Shane Duffy and a freak own goal in the home draw against Serbia.

Kenny has claimed that building a squad capable of making the Euros in 2024 has been his priority but he knows he needs results now if he's to get the time to work towards that target.

Perhaps Keane's inclusion in the squad is a concession to that in some way.

Keane’s call-up comes four years after he actually declared for Ireland - with both O'Neill and McCarthy declining the opportunity to get him capped.

Now 28, the brother of Everton centre-half Michael is, in Kenny’s words, "a very clever player, good awareness, good touch, an intelligent footballer".

Keane is indeed clever and he has got talent but he’s hardly prolific. He scored ten times in 32 games for Wigan in League One last season, and just three in 23 games for Ipswich in the same division the campaign before that.

He’s in good form at the moment having struck five times in his first ten matches this season and Kenny most likely sees him as an other experienced player who can take some of the burden off Adam Idah in the short term more than anything grander. Kenny described Idah as "a natural goalscorer" on Tuesday, highlighting his superb record at underage level and stressing his belief that it's only a matter of time before he breaks his duck at senior level and kicks on.

"Adam performed very well I felt in the previous international and won man of the match awards and things like that," Kenny said. "He's frustrated himself. It certainly bothers him that he hasn't scored yet, but he's given us an awful lot of attributes."

Aaron Connolly has yet to get off the mark with Ireland either, with his club situation clearly not helping him when it comes to the qualifiers. A lack of minutes with Brighton means he's often come into camp rusty. Idah is in the same boat.

Callum Robinson has one goal in 20 appearances for the Boys in Green though he often freshens things up in the top third and has a particularly good xGBuildup rating.

What's xGBuildup? Essentially it's a measurement of all the attacking actions a player makes, except - and this is probably not too surprising - for key passes and shots on goal. Robinson is tidy and effective when it comes to building attacks; but too often for a player of his capability he lacks an end product.

The goals have dried up for James Collins since a fine 2018/19 season n which he fired Luton Town to promotion from League One. He's now at Cardiff in the Championship and yet to score this campaign. Still, he does have the distinction of being the only Ireland striker to have scored a goal in the World Cup qualifiers to date.

Tottenham's Troy Parrott seems more settled at MK Dons than he was at Millwall or Ipswich Town, two loan spells that never really clicked. He's got three goals and three assists in League One this term and possesses an abundance of promise.

Lots of potential, technical capability and an xGBuildup rating to hang your hat on. But the Republic of Ireland attack needs to deliver goals - and it remains difficult to see where they're going to come from.

Kenny's biggest challenge in the remaining games of 2021 will be to sharpen his expansive approach with a more potent attacking edge.

Follow Azerbaijan v Republic of Ireland via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player, or listen to commentary on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.