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Friday 22 November 2019

Arter out but teen Luca gets call from Mick

CALL-UP: Luca Connell. Pic: Getty
CALL-UP: Luca Connell. Pic: Getty

Mick McCarthy has given a clear indication that he wants England to keep their hands off promising Bolton man Luca Connell by handing the 18-year-old a call-up to the senior Ireland squad.

The Irish panel will assemble here in Portugal today for a training camp to prepare for the Euro 2020 qualifiers next month against Denmark (away) and Gibraltar (home).

Richard Keogh (Derby), Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) and Josh Cullen (Charlton) are named in the squad for the qualifiers, but play-off duties with their clubs next week means they will not be in the Algarve for training.

Keeper Kieran O'Hara (Manchester United) drops out due to injury and is replaced by Norway-based Sean McDermott, but Harry Arter, Jack Byrne, James Collins and Aiden O'Brien are dropped from the squad.

Given that Cyrus Christie, a favourite of Martin O'Neill, didn't even make the provisional squad and that Arter has been left out, McCarthy is keen to do things his way.

And that includes a call-up for Connell (18) who has earned praise for his form with Bolton this season despite their relegation to League One.

He was 17 when he made his debut for the Trotters and contributed a string of displays which made him a target for Premier League and Championship clubs, while England were also keen to recruit the Liverpool native to their set-up.

"Luca deserves this opportunity. With Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan and Josh Cullen all on play-off duty with their clubs in the coming weeks, this is the perfect chance to get Luca into the squad," said McCarthy.

"He has had a fine season with Bolton playing 15 times in total and even with their relegation troubles, he has impressed so many people. I know a number of big clubs have sent scouts to watch him so this is a chance to get him in to work with the senior players and see how he gets on."

Preston pair Callum Robinson and Alan Browne, Bristol City man Callum O'Dowda and Southampton striker Shane Long all return to the Ireland fray after injury disrupted them in recent months.

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