“The tried, the tested and the teenagers” according to the FAI’s Director of Communications Cathal Dervan!
Mick McCarthy has named a large 40-man provisional squad for the upcoming (September 5th) UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium against Switzerland and a friendly against Bulgaria at the same venue five days later.
“I know that (a 40-man squad) is a ridiculous amount, but that’s pretty much all the players who have been involved over the last few years,” said McCarthy at the announcement of the squad at Salthill Devon in Galway this evening.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and the upcoming qualifiers. There’s lots of (club) matches and people could get injured.
“Tried and tested players such as Jeff Hendrick – who didn’t play last weekend – and Glenn Whelan signed for Hearts during the week. He’s been different class in the games he’s been in for us so I want to give the likes of him a chance.”
When asked how his summer had been, the manager replied: “Well the points (10 points from four qualifying matches played) are still there. It was like a disappointment to some, when we went into the summer with the 10 points. We didn’t play well against Gibraltar but we achieved our (points) target.
“Had we beaten Denmark in Denmark, that would have been unbelievable, but we saw in that game that was unlikely, that was a great draw for us.
“So, I enjoyed my holiday, I enjoyed my break, but I’m ready to go again now.
“This is a massive game (versus Switzerland). It’s games that I’ve been used to, at the Aviva now but at Lansdowne Road before. Putting yourself in a position where you’ve got a chance of qualifying, it creates interest, it creates a good feeling and generates good will towards the team and I think that has happened and we want to maintain that with a good performance and a win.
“The supporters have a big part to play. We all remember the first game (of the current campaign in Dublin) against Georgia at the Aviva with the tennis balls. I don’t want to remind everyone of that. Then the Gibraltar game was a good crowd and a good atmosphere but it fizzled away because it was only a 2-nil win against a team that were pretty robust and stoic and we perhaps should have beaten them by more.
“But, I still think that the interest and the excitement came back and people were going away thinking: ‘They’ve all had a go, they’ve played decent’.
“Anywhere around Ireland I’ve been, the interest (in the team’s fortunes) has been there and especially with this game now because Switzerland have been around European football’s upper echelons for years.”
It was put to McCarthy that Switzerland are probably the best team in the group.
He replied: “I’d say they are. I don’t know how on earth they drew 3-all with Denmark because they were three up against them, although the first goal they got was handball and I thought it shouldn’t have counted. But then Denmark got three back in eight minutes, does that show a weak side to them, I don’t know, because Denmark are a good side as well.”
Troy Parrott’s progress was mentioned. The teenager was included in the provisional 40-man squad today. With an Under-21 match the Friday after the Switzerland match, McCarthy was asked if there’s a temptation to use Parrott for the senior match.
“I spoke to (Ireland Under-21 manager) Stephen Kenny and he asked me if I intended to take any of his players. I told him that three players, Michael Obafemi, Nathan Collins and Troy Parrott would be in the (senior) squad but I said that I’m only going to keep them if I’m going to play them.
“I didn’t want to get carried away by Troy Parrott being in Spurs’ pre-season friendlies and Troy wasn’t in Spurs’ squad for the opening Premier League game last weekend. More than likely those three players will play in the Under-21s squad.”
Doncaster Rovers’ and former Cork City man Kieran Sadlier has been included in a senior Ireland squad for the first time.
McCarthy said of Sadlier: “I haven’t seen him (live) yet. I’ve been looking at Doncaster’s games. He’s scored in pre-season and he’s scored a couple of other goals. Darren Moore is their coach and I know him, TC (Ireland assistant manager Terry Connor) spoke to him (Moore) recently and he’s really pleased with Sadlier, reckons he’ll get better, so we’ll keep an eye on him.”
Callum Robinson, a new signing at Sheffield United, is one of four Irish players in the Premier League new boys’ squad.
McCarthy said of Robinson: “Callum was the one new boy in the squad. Chris (Wilder, Sheffield United manager) had gone with the tried and tested, which I thought he would, with Enda Stevens at left-wing back, David McGoldrick up front, John Egan playing at the back of a three, and I though Callum and Didsy (McGoldrick) did well together (in the first Premier League match of the season last weekend versus Bournemouth). Didsy did brilliantly, came off after 65 minutes, it was brilliant seeing four of them (Republic of Ireland players) playing in the Premier League. It was a bit of a cagey game (versus Bournemouth), not like the Sheffield United I’ve come to see. It’s a different league they’re in now though and they’ve gotten a good result and I was delighted for our four lads that started.”
James McCarthy played for the Crystal Palace Under-23s last week.
“I went to see them, yeah. I flew there apparently, I flew there from my home ten miles away in Bromley! Haha, I love all those things they tell me!
“I sat with Roy Hodgson watching the game. It was interesting to get his feedback because we both recognize what a good player McCarthy has been when he’s fit. I thought he bossed that game and dictated it from midfield. The game wasn’t of a high intensity, it wasn’t like a Premier League or a Championship game.
“I texted James afterwards and I said it was great to see him playing but that he needs to get minutes into his legs in the Premier League and not at Under-23s standard.”
Daniel Crowley was mentioned.
“There’s an eligibility issue. We’ve got to make sure that he’s fully qualified to play for us and if he does then if he is then we’ll continue watching him.”
Finally, it was broached to McCarthy that the Switzerland game is three weeks away and that it’s going to be exciting between now and then.
McCarthy stated in reply: “It’s one of those big games that you’re really looking forward to, great anticipation from everybody. I think we’re all feeling pretty confident about it. We’ve had almost a three month break. So long as the lads I want to pick are playing, it’s going to make it a lot easier. But equally, I’ve been in that position, I was trusted when I wasn’t playing (at club level), I was at Millwall, and big Jack (Charlton) played me in the Ireland games. Don’t get me wrong, I was fit and I was training at that time, so there’s a dilemma there when you’re picking the teams.”
Republic of Ireland provisional 40-man squad to play Switzerland and Bulgaria:
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood, Mark Travers, Kieran O’Hara
Defenders: Séamus Coleman, Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, John Egan, Kevin Long, Nathan Collins, Enda Stevens, Greg Cunningham, Cyrus Christie, Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams, Ciaran Clark
Midfielders: Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan), Josh Cullen, Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Robbie Brady, Alan Browne, James McClean, Callum O’Dowda, James McCarthy , Jack Byrne , Alan Judge, Harry Arter, Ronan Curtis, Kieran Sadlier
Forwards: Callum Robinson, Scott Hogan, Shane Long (Southampton), Michael Obafemi, David McGoldrick, James Collins, Aiden O’Brien , Troy Parrott, Sean Maguire