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McCarthy tells Shane Long he's back in the mix to help Ireland reach Euro 2020

The veteran striker is in line for an international recall as Southampton team-mate Michael Obafemi is also catching the eye.

Shane Long celebrates scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Shane Long celebrates scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Image: Mark Kerton

MICK McCARTHY HAS told Shane Long that he could be brought in from the cold to help the Republic of Ireland qualify for Euro 2020 — provided he keeps up his good form with Southampton.

The 33-year-old missed his side’s FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend due to a knee injury, but he has become a pivotal figure leading the line for Ralph Hassenhutl’s charges.

The Austrian boss heaped praise on Long for his impact in recent months, and it’s something McCarthy has taken notice of too, having dropped him from the Ireland squad throughout the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

McCarthy was at St Mary’s for the Saints’ 1-1 draw on Saturday as he also confirmed that Long’s Southampton team-mate, Michael Obafemi, has been on his radar for some time.

As he begins to sharpen his focus for the Euro play-off with Slovakia in March, McCarthy is prepared to take a chance on the two Saints front men. 

“I’ve had Michael watched several times but this was the first time I’ve seen him live myself and I did like what I saw,” McCarthy told FAI.ie

“He linked up well with Danny Ings, he got in behind the Spurs defence and while he didn’t have that many shots himself, he was a constant nuisance for the opposition.

Michael did all the things I expected of him very well. We had Southampton watched when they won at Crystal Palace recently and the reports on Michael, Shane and James McCarthy were all very positive.

“Like all our players, Michael is benefitting from regular first team football and he certainly gave me something to think about on Saturday. I’ll be back to watch him again and to have a look at Shane,” he added. 

“I’ve also kept in regular contact with Shane and I’ve repeatedly told him that his return to form with his club will count for March.”

McCarthy has revealed that Ipswich Town striker Will Keane will also be considered, having sent assistant Terry Connor to watch him in League One.

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McCarthy spoke positively of Glenn Whelan’s move to that division with Fleetwood Town, and while the likes of Jayson Molumby, Jason Knight, Dara O’Shea and Conor Masterson were all name checked for recent performances, the goal scoring form of Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis has also caught the eye.

harrogate-town-v-portsmouth-fa-cup-first-round-cng-stadium Ronan Curtis celebrating a goal for Portsmouth. Source: Martin Rickett

“He’s got 12 goals this season and he was the League One Player of the Month for November and December so he is right back in contention for a call-up for the Slovakia game.

“Ronan, like Michael Obafemi and Shane Long, is one of a number of Irish players coming into form right now which is great news at this point in the season.

I said last year that once we got to January the time flew until the qualifiers in March and I expect it will be the same for the play-off. We just need these players to keep fit, keep playing well and keep giving me a headache about the squad selection.

“We are putting the miles in and I can promise the fans that no stone will be left unturned between now and the end of the March,” continued the Ireland boss.

“Will [Keane] got his passport sorted last year but he has struggled with injuries until now and we will keep an eye on him at Ipswich. Jayson Molumby is impressing everyone at Millwall while Jason Knight, Conor Masterson and Dara O’Shea are all taking their chance in the Championship at present which is great for us.

“It’s not all about the kids though. James McClean is coming into his own under Michael O’Neill at Stoke, Glenn is really enjoying working with Joey Barton at Fleetwood and Darren is back in the Premier League where he belongs.

“I know March is a long way off but there is a real feelgood factor about the players available for the squad now. Long may that continue.”

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