Glenn Whelan controls the ball as Frank Lampard of England looks on. ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Glenn Whelan predicts bright James McCarthy future with 'top Premier League side'

The Stoke and Ireland midfielder believes McCarthy would flourish with a Champions League-chasing outfit.

ANOTHER PREMIER LEAGUE season is around the corner for Glenn Whelan and many of his Republic of Ireland teammates yet he finds himself contemplating the challenge of impressing his international manager.

Ireland play Wales in an international friendly on Wednesday and the midfielder will be hoping to confirm his holding role credentials to Giovanni Trapattoni. With a new boss, Mark Hughes, at Whelan’s Stoke City, the lines are blurred. Commitment to his country comes first, he argues. The Premier League can wait.

“I don’t think you’ll see too many lads play 90 minutes,” he said. “It’s a hard situation that we’re put in. You want to do both [play full games for club and country] but if you play 90 minutes [for Ireland] it will be in the manager’s mind for the weekend.”

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wednesday’s clash and Whelan says it is understandable, considering that a contract with Real Madrid is awaiting the Welshman’s signature. “He’d like to get [the deal] done and then represent his country,” said Whelan, “but if it’s not done, I don’t think we’ll see him.”

Whelan has built up a good working relationship for Ireland with James McCarthy and he believes the Wigan player would be good enough to play for a top four side in the Premier League. “You only look at what he has done over the last couple of years,” said Whelan. “He’s a young lad but he’s got an experienced head on his shoulders.

“He’s done well with what he’s achieved at Wigan and, no disrespect to them, they’re a small team and just scraped to stay in the Premier League over the last couple of years… they’ll be doing all they can to keep them but I’m sure there are a lot of Premier League teams that would take him off their hands. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”

“If he’s going to go to a team and [only] be a bit-part player,” Whelan added, “I’m sure his family, or representatives, will speak to him about it. James knows what he wants and he’ll make the right decision.”

Whelan chats to the media at Ireland’s training session on Monday. (©INPHO/Donall Farmer)

Having lost 2-0 to Spain last time out, Whelan is eager for an Ireland win to put his country in good stead for vital World Cup Qualifier matches in September.

He said, “It’ll be like a derby game for us. People talk about it as a friendly game but I don’t think it will be too friendly.”

Mark Hughes is a proud Welshman and many of Stoke’s new coaching set-up are likewise. The Irish midfielder jokes that he ‘didn’t get too many good lucks’ when he set off for the match. He added:

It’s bragging rights when you go back but, obviously, we want to go out and put in the right performance.”

Whelan is already looking beyond Wales, however, and at the double-header, against Sweden [home] and Austria [away] next month.

“We’re only concentrating on the first game [Sweden]; going out and getting the win that we need and pushing on. It’s going to be tough for the double-header but after those two games everyone is going to know if you have a great chance of going on or not.”

Audio courtesy of 98FM.

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