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Dublin: -2°C Saturday 17 April 2021

McCarthy not ready to turn to youth as crunch qualifiers draw closer

The Ireland boss has called up a number of exciting players, but isn’t going to throw them into the starting XI just yet.

McCarthy speaking in Galway yesterday.
McCarthy speaking in Galway yesterday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CRYSTAL PALACE MIDFIELDER James McCarthy won’t be rushed back into the Republic of Ireland first team until he gets extended game-time with his new club, according to Irish manager Mick McCarthy.

McCarthy was named in the provisional 40-man Ireland squad ahead of their upcoming Euro 2020 Qualifier against Switzerland on 5 September and the international friendly against Bulgaria on 10 September.

But the 28-year-old former Everton star, who hasn’t played for Ireland since their clash with Moldova three years ago, is yet to feature for Crystal Palace after his £ 3million summer move.

“He needs some Premier League football in his legs,” said Irish manager McCarthy in Galway yesterday. “He did fine in that U23s game but I’d expect him to. There was no great intensity to it at all.

“I’ve been speaking to James by text and he’s just said he needs games in his legs. He has had five competitive games in two years. He needs some now to be competing so he can get in the team.

“I’ve got to see him at his best, haven’t I? I am not promising someone hypothetically that if he gets back to his best he is first choice, no chance.

“Because John Egan is at his best and playing well for Sheffield United but two other lads are playing great and have done for me. So I am not promising somebody a game.”

Promising youngsters Troy Parrott, Kieran Sadlier and Nathan Collins were all included in the extended squad for the first time, but that number will soon be trimmed down to 23 players.

McCarthy will be replaced by Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny after Euro 2020, and he says that Kenny and his underage team will have preference in squad selection this time around.

“Stephen has got that wonderful job of creating his own players for his senior squad,” said McCarthy.

“He has got that pool of talent in the U21s. He is developing them, coaching them. He is doing it for after the Euros. He is going to know them far better than I do.

“Am I looking at them? Oh no because I have got four games and it is unlikely that those players will play. Troy Parrott is different if he gets in the first team.”

Doncaster Rovers v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - Keepmoat Stadium Kieran Sadlier received his first call-up. Source: Clint Hughes

Southampton’s Michael Obafemi is one of the younger players who has already broken through at the highest level.

But McCarthy believes the future talents, like the 19-year-old striker, need to perform on a constant basis if they are to feature in the Ireland starting XI. 

“Has anybody seen him play five games on the bounce in the Premier League? I haven’t,” said McCarthy.

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“So he is a sub and is blisteringly quick and is always going to be a threat in the last knocking of a game.

“He is playing with players whom he knows and trains with them on a regular basis. He is probably going to be a threat, certainly more of a threat for Southampton than he is for us.

He is not proven yet over a period of time. It’s like if I gave somebody a debut and you would all then question me for giving him a debut. I am unlikely to do that.

Ireland currently sit top of Group D in Euro 2020 qualifying, with three wins from four games, and they are five points clear of Denmark in the standings.

Switzerland are one point further in arrears and McCarthy says Ireland’s next group opponents will want to bounce back from the concession of three late goals in a 3-3 draw at home to Denmark on 26 March.

“I think they should respect us and I think they will. I am not suggesting that they should be worried. I am not worried about Denmark or Switzerland but I respect them which is somewhat different,” the manager added.

“Just the fact that Switzerland conceded three goals. I don’t see that being an ongoing weakness of theirs.”

Who will be on the plane to Japan? Bernard Jackman joins Murray and Gavan to map out the Irish depth chart. We also rank the best national anthems, and Murray sits down with Peter O’Mahony.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Daragh Small

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