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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 20 January 2021

McCarthy dismisses Schmeichel jibe and tight-lipped on Connolly start ahead of Swiss clash

The Irish manager said he would ‘absolutely’ take a draw in Geneva tomorrow.

Mick McCarthy speaks to the media at the Stade de Geneva ahead of tomorrow's game.
Mick McCarthy speaks to the media at the Stade de Geneva ahead of tomorrow's game.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MICK MCCARTHY DODGED the issue of Peter Schmeichel’s jibe toward Ireland at a press conference today, ahead of tomorrow’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Switzerland in Geneva. 

Schmeichel reportedly consoled Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Denmark in Copenhagen by saying, “Switzerland will win against Ireland.”

“I have seen Ireland play and they are so bad. Switzerland can take a lot of positives from their performance in Copenhagen.

“They have some really talented players. If they play like that against Ireland, the win will come.” 

When those quotes were put to McCarthy today, he was reluctant to engage. “That’s very kind of him”, said McCarthy. “There are so many people who have opinions of me, my team, my players, I’m not bothered. And I certainly don’t respond to them.” 

The Irish manager is frustrated by why what he sees as a certain lack of positivity toward the squad, however, ahead of Ireland’s penultimate group game. 

“I genuinely don’t read it”, said McCarthy of the coverage around his squad. 

I just keep getting messages from people saying ‘F the begrudgers’ and I keep thinking, what’s going on? And seriously, what’s going on? I asked the question, I haven’t sensed that at all, it’s just a few text messages I got. And I didn’t want to text them back and ask what’s going on.

“I just don’t get a feeling the fact that we are within a win of qualifying, I just don’t get the sense there is some sense of anticipation or excitement and there should be.

“It’s not a negative vibe I’m getting, it’s just not one of positivity that we can do it, which is a different feeling.” 

The permutations for Ireland are clear – they will qualify with a win tomorrow night, but regardless of the result, will still have their destiny in their own hands and will go through if they beat Denmark in the final game next month.

A draw tomorrow night would only tweak the issue for the Danes. Should tomorrow nights’ game end in a draw and Denmark beat Gibraltar in their penultimate game, they would have already qualified and have nothing to play for by the time they face Ireland. 

“Would I be happy with a draw tomorrow? Absolutely”, said McCarthy, before again stressing Ireland will be aiming to win the game.”If we set up to try and get a draw that will be a recipe for disaster. We have tried to win every game. It might not always look like it when we are being pushed back by good teams, and having seen these against Denmark, they are a very good side.” 

The situation for Switzerland is different – they must win to keep qualification in their own hands. If they don’t, they will need Denmark to deny Ireland a win in the final group game. 

“Everybody wants to make it a cup final, a do-or-die, and I don’t think it is. I think it is for them. I wish I’d come into his [Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic] press conference actually and listened to the questions he was answering. I think, yeah, they do have to beat us tomorrow night.

“That’s not the case with us, is it? We get a draw tomorrow night and we’ve still got Denmark to play. And I have to say, when I look back at the game against Switzerland, I can’t think for one minute how anyone could imagine that we’re just going to come here and go all guns blazing and gonna take them on and just going to win. Because they are a very good side.

“They  just dominated Denmark, all over them they were.”

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McCarthy was classically tight-lipped on his team selection, meaning he gave little indication on whether Aaron Connoly would start the game other than repeating his belief that starting the teenager is not a risk. If Connolly does start, McCarthy said he will need a team-mate playing either alongside him or behind him. 

a-view-of-ireland-training The Irish squad train in Geneva. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Someone to support him, yes. I wouldn’t want him to be isolated up there, that’s for sure. They play three at the back and I think putting Aaron into that, if I decided to do it, putting him up on his own would be a big ask, I think on his first full start.” 

McCarthy wasn’t giving away anything beyond that, bar asserting that he is “very happy with my midfield player.” 

The Irish boss also has no concerns in subjecting Glenn Whelan to a second set of 90-minutes in the space of four days. 

“I think if you ask that question directly to him he might punch you on the nose. He’s been remarkable and he is a model pro and a really good athlete who looks after himself and if he plays tomorrow, it’ll not be a problem.” 

McCarthy has no fresh injury concerns ahead of tomorrow night, and all members of the squad trained at the Stade de Geneva this evening. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from Stade de Geneva, Switzerland

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