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Saturday 19 October 2019

Brady gives Mick a timely shot in the arm

Long and Robbie are back while Masterson hopes for Anfield call

Liverpool’s young Irish defender Conor Masterson has been named in the initial 20-man squad for tomorrow’s crunch Premier League clash with Manchester United
Liverpool’s young Irish defender Conor Masterson has been named in the initial 20-man squad for tomorrow’s crunch Premier League clash with Manchester United
Robbie Brady

It's just short of ten years, ten long years, since the manager of the Republic of Ireland had cause to go to Anfield to watch one of his players line out for the home side in a Premier League game.

Mick McCarthy has a lot on his to-do list as he beds into his role, second time around, as manager of the national team. With that in mind, the fact that young Dubliner Conor Masterson has been added to an injury-hit Reds squad for tomorrow's Premier League game at home to Manchester United may not be enough to lure McCarthy to Merseyside on the off-chance of seeing one of his eligible players.

Masterson is indeed in the 20-strong squad named for the game, but he might just miss out when it comes to the 18-man panel for match day.

Not since Robbie Keane lined out for Liverpool against Wigan way back in January 2009 has an Irish player appeared in the Liverpool shirt in the Premier League, but Masterson's move up the ladder is one of a couple of bright spots for McCarthy as he plans a route to Euro 2020.

Fitness

And the Ireland boss will be encouraged by the thoughts of Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who feels that Robbie Brady is now, at last, finding his real form after that spell he needed to adjust once he'd regained fitness following his leg break.

"The hardest thing for players is that when they have been out that long, it's not about being back to your best in three of four games," says Dyche, aware that it was not easy for Brady to bed back into the side having been sidelined for 11 months following a serious knee injury.

"It can take six, seven, eight or nine, by the time you get that ground-in Premier League fitness.

"There has to be a period for adjustment and Robbie is showing good signs now of getting back there."

Brady's compatriot Shane Long is also on the verge of a return, having missed out on the end of the Martin O'Neill era due to injury.

Long has missed Southampton's last six games and in the time he has been out, he's seen his managers with club (Mark Hughes) and country (O'Neill) vacate their posts. Current manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said he hopes to blend Long back into the squad for tomorrow's game at home to Arsenal.

"I have good news in that a few players have come back this week," Hasenhuttl said.

"Danny Ings, Shane Long and Cedric Soares trained twice this week with the team, firstly in a smaller group and then the whole squad. It seems they don't have any problems anymore."

Millwall striker Aiden O'Brien hopes that the connections between people at his club and McCarthy could work in his favour as he tries to do more at international level. "Obviously every manager has got different views on players and you can't just expect to be called up," said O'Brien. "You've got to make sure that you perform, if and when he comes to watch . I've got to keep my head down and do well for Millwall, that is the same as before.

"I'd say he (McCarthy) knows the manager (Neil Harris) from when he was at Ipswich. It makes it a little easier for him to ask about me and Willo (Shaun Williams).

"He will have his players in mind. I want to prove I am worthy of the shirt."

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