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Dublin: 5°C Friday 27 November 2020

'I’d be bonkers to leave him out' - Shane Duffy ready to start for Ireland against Georgia

Elsewhere, Mick McCarthy was flattered by the comparison drawn between his team and Michael Flatley.

Shane Duffy trains with the Irish team in Georgia today.
Shane Duffy trains with the Irish team in Georgia today.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

SHANE DUFFY IS fit to start Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier away to Georgia tomorrow night, confirmed Mick McCarthy at his pre-match press conference this afternoon.

Duffy has been struggling with a groin injury and was given added time to link up with the Irish squad, flying in on Wednesday evening having trained that day with Brighton. He sat out the Irish session on Thursday to help his recovery, but he trained with the Irish squad at the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi today and will be available for tomorrow’s game.

“He’s fine. I wouldn’t let him train yesterday”, said McCarthy. “I told him he couldn’t train and he said, ‘Why?’, and I said, ‘Because I said so’.

“I’d been asked by Brighton – he’d done three days in a row, which is fair enough and it was a recovery day, as they now call it and he’s done that.

“He’s fit to play, yes. He’s probably had eight or nine days off, maybe seven before he started back jogging, so he’s only had that and he’s been training then for the rest of the time.

“He missed yesterday as a recovery day and I’m cool with that. I don’t need him to run around here, I want him to run around on Saturday, if he’s fit to run.

“It would be kind of ridiculous of me, the way he’s played and performed, if he’s fit for him not to be in my team, wouldn’t it?

“If you’re looking for one starter, then Shane Duffy… He’s just been outstanding. I’d be bonkers to leave him out.

mick-mccarthy Mick McCarty speaks to the media. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Although Duffy has been passed fit, David McGoldrick is uninvolved having failed to recover from a hamstring strain. McCarthy said McGoldrick has a “slim chance” of being involved as a substitute against Switzerland on Tuesday, and McCarthy is confident that Luton’s James Collins is ready to fill McGoldrick’s shoes.

Collins scored his first Irish goal in last month’s friendly with Bulgaria.

“Why would I not? Because I trust the players when they come in. I trust them for what they do and how they go in training.

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“It’s not only just seeing him the half an hour of international football where I thought he was excellent actually. It’s when he comes and trains with the lads and he doesn’t look out of place.

“He’s fitted in and he looks every bit the international player with us. So, I trust the lads. There’s no point having them in the squad if I don’t. You have got to believe in him and I would with him. if I am going to play him, no doubt.

“He’s as mentally strong as any of the others that have been upfront, I have no doubt about that. If I decide to pick him, I’ve no worries about him.”

The other major selection question is as to who plays at left-back in place of the suspended Enda Stevens. Matt Doherty and Blackburn’s Derrick Williams are in contention for that role.

McCarthy confirmed James McClean is fit, having sat out a training session on Tuesday with a minor back complaint, meaning if Aaron Connolly does make his senior debut tomorrow night, it will likely be as a substitute.

The Irish manager also gave his response to the curious compliment paid to his side by Georgia boss Vladimir Weiss earlier today, in which he likened Ireland’s “phenomenal energy” to Riverdance.

“Ireland play football, if I can say, like Michael Flatley dances”, said Weiss.

McCarthy was initially stumped by the question – “I’m not often lost for words” – but when it was explained to him, he stressed he was flattered.

“I think when somebody describes you as somebody who is as brilliant as Michael Flatley, such a wonderful performer and dancer – and a nice guy actually – I’ll take that as a huge compliment.

“Yeah, he’s excellent, Flatley. I’ll take that as a huge compliment.”

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Gavin Cooney  / reports from the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi

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