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McCarthy on Ireland teen sensation Connolly: 'He deserves this chance'

The 19-year-old Galway native scored twice for Brighton against Tottenham on Saturday.

Aaron Connolly scored twice for Brighton against Tottenham on Saturday.
Aaron Connolly scored twice for Brighton against Tottenham on Saturday.
Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth

MICK MCCARTHY HAS praised Aaron Connolly after the youngster’s brace helped Brighton beat Tottenham 3-0 on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Galway native previously impressed for Stephen Kenny’s U21 side, though McCarthy had initially resisted calls for him to be included in the senior squad.

The situation changed last night, as Connolly was the beneficiary after Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

On the call-up, McCarthy told FAI.ie: “I’ve said all along that any young player who is getting first-team football and playing well would be a real contender for the squad for these games. Aaron has got into the Brighton team, played well and scored so he deserves this chance.”

McCarthy was also pleased to see a number of other Irish players on the scoresheet, with Jeff Hendrick, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan all grabbing goals for their respective clubs.

There was good news today too for a duo that have not featured in McCarthy’s recent squads — Shane Long and Ciaran Clark both made their first Premier League starts of the season, with the latter making his first Premier League appearance since January, having fallen out of favour under previous Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez.

“The first bonus this weekend was to see so many of our players start for their clubs and the second bonus was the fact that some of them scored as well.”

McCarthy added that he was still holding out hope that key duo Shane Duffy and David McGoldrick would be available for the upcoming crucial qualifiers

“Our medical team are in constant touch with the two clubs and monitoring the treatment programmes and progress for both Shane (Duffy) and David (McGoldrick),” he added.

“We will give both of them as much time as we can before making that decision. Both Brighton and Sheffield United are doing everything they can to get them fit for us and I would like to thank them for their co-operation.

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“Aaron Connolly and Derrick Williams are in camp now and I will see how Shane and David are doing before finalising the travelling party for Thursday’s flight.”

In addition, Simon Power, the young Norwich winger who is currently on loan at Ross County, has been called up to the Ireland U21 squad after Connolly’s promotion.

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Paul Fennessy

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