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Mick McCarthy singles out Shrewsbury youngster for praise

Max O’Leary has already been called up to the Ireland squad once before.

Shrewsbury Town goalkeeper Max O'Leary.
Shrewsbury Town goalkeeper Max O'Leary.
Image: Tim Goode

IRELAND BOSS MICK McCarthy praised goalkeeper Max O’Leary after watching him in Shrewsbury’s 2-0 loss to Portsmouth on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Bath-born goalkeeper qualifies for the Republic through his Kerry-born grandfather and was called up to the squad last May for qualifiers with Denmark and Gibraltar after Bournemouth’s Mark Travers withdrew due to injury.

O’Leary is current on loan, having played 15 times for parent club Bristol City in the Championship last season.

McCarthy watched the player at the weekend, while also having a looked at in-form Portsmouth winger Ronan Curtis.

The ex-Derry City player is “making his claim for the play-off,” McCarthy told the FAI’s official website, adding: “He didn’t score against Shrewsbury but you could see how confident he is at the minute. He’s on top form with Pompey and he did well on Saturday, as did Marcus Harness who may well feature for us in the future.

“Getting to see Max O’Leary was a bonus. Max trained with us in Portugal in the summer while he sorted out his paperwork and while he could do nothing about the two goals on Saturday, he looks a good goalkeeping prospect.”

Ireland are short of goalkeepers playing first-team football currently. Darren Randolph has mainly been second choice since joining West Ham from Middlesbrough.

With Mark Travers also not seeing much first-team action at Bournemouth, Kieran O’Hara is the only stopper included in the last squad who has enjoyed regular senior football, lining out 41 times in all competitions for League One outfit Burton.

Meanwhile, McCarthy expressed sympathy for injured pair James McClean and Ciaran Clark.

“I sent Ciaran a text on Monday wishing him well and assuring him, as we did with James McClean when he got injured last week, that we will give him all the time he needs to get fit for Slovakia,” he said

Like with James, we have to wait for Ciaran’s injury to settle down before we know the full prognosis. The game in Bratislava is still five weeks away on Thursday and I will give both players as long as I can.

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“You just don’t know at first with these injuries. I’ve seen everything from two weeks to eight weeks for James’ recovery so I will check in with him again later this week and see how he is doing.”

McCarthy also watched Shane Long and Michael Obafemi during Southampton’s loss to Burnley, again hinting that the former was enhancing his claims for a place on the plane to Slovakia after winning his place back in the Saints team.

Meanwhile, other members of the coaching staff watched Dara O’Shea and Callum Robinson, who scored his first West Brom goal against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, while Darragh Lenihan at Blackburn and Glenn Whelan at Fleetwood were also scouted.

“Terry Connor was at the West Brom-Forest game and he was impressed with Callum, not just with the goal but with the way he is playing in his best position which is out on the left and coming in on his right foot, which is exactly what he did for the goal.

“Darragh is one of the most consistent defenders in the Championship this season. Robbie Keane was really taken with him when he played against Middlesbrough at the start of the month and he was good again on Saturday.

“Glenn has made Fleetwood tough to beat since he went there, they haven’t been beaten in the six games he has played in and he was Man of the Match against Peterborough at the weekend. That’ll do for me.”  

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Paul Fennessy

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