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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Cup of good cheer for 'class act' Pearce

CUP RUN: Alex Pearce. Pic: PA
CUP RUN: Alex Pearce. Pic: PA

Millwall boss Neil Harris has hailed "class act" Ireland defender Alex Pearce for the part he played in the Lions' FA Cup run.

Harris' side overcame London rivals AFC Wimbledon in the fifth round on Saturday, putting them into the last eight, 90 minutes away from an appearance at Wembley.

Millwall are used to Cup runs as this is the fourth time in 15 seasons that they have made the last eight, a better record than many Premier League teams, and Ireland caps Shaun Williams and Aiden O'Brien have played a key role.

Pearce (30) has not played a league game for the club since his January loan move from Derby County, but he is an ever-present in the Cup run.

And boss Harris was very pleased with Pearce's efforts in last weekend's win.

"Pearcy is a class pro, class fella. I could have gone with Hutch (Shaun Hutchinson), but Hutch has been struggling for an injury for a couple of weeks now.

"He wanted to play, but I just thought with the mentality needed, the first contacts, with the leadership qualities we needed, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for Pearcy," said Harris, keen for another derby in the next round of the Cup.

"I would love to play Crystal Palace at The Den. Just to be where we are is a great achievement, we can avoid Man City if we can."

Pearce is on loan from Derby until the end of the season and is then a free agent.

The defender is also keen to revive his international career.

Pearce has not been in the Ireland squad since the friendly away to Turkey 11 months ago, when he was an unused sub, and his last cap was as a second half sub for Shane Duffy in a friendly win over Uruguay in June 2017.

Pearce was given his Ireland debut by Giovanni Trapattoni in 2012 and was also capped by Martin O'Neill but he has yet to play in a competitive game at senior level.

With little Irish involvement in the Premier League, McCarthy and his scouting team are paying attention to the League of Ireland and the Championship, assistant Terry Connor watching Conor Hourihane play for Aston Villa in their home loss to West Brom on Saturday.

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