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Glenn Whelan has been recalled to Ireland duty. Photo: Sportsfile

Glenn Whelan has been recalled to Ireland duty. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Newport striker Padraig Amond has been included by boss Mick McCarthy

Newport striker Padraig Amond has been included by boss Mick McCarthy

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is pictured at yesterday’s squad announcement

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is pictured at yesterday’s squad announcement

SPORTSFILE

Glenn Whelan has been recalled to Ireland duty. Photo: Sportsfile

It's a case of second time around for Mick McCarthy as manager of the Republic of Ireland.

But the first two games of his follow-up spell as boss is also a case of old faces trying to fit into a new-look regime, with McCarthy looking to the trio of Aiden McGeady, Glenn Whelan and David McGoldrick to show that, despite their advanced years (the trio have a combined age of 98), they can still contribute to the national team, with fellow thirty-somethings Keiren Westwood and Stephen Ward also back in the fold.

There were a few new faces included when McCarthy yesterday announced his 38-man provisional squad for the Euro 2020 double header against Gibraltar and Georgia.

Call-up

Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers, Newport County striker Padraig Amond (30) and Luton Town man James Collins (28), who all played for Ireland at underage level, get the call-up at senior level for the first time.

Ireland have seen a player from the fourth tier win a cap lately, as Callum O'Dowda was on the books of Oxford United, then technically a League Two side (albeit a club who had been promoted) when he made his debut under Martin O'Neill in 2016, so Amond's promotion to the squad is not as odd as it may seem.

But given that the first squad which McCarthy named as Ireland boss in 1996 had eight players drawn from the big clubs (Manchester United and City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea), having only 13 top-flight players in a squad of 38 now shows just how bare the cupboard is.

Of course all 38 players won't be on board the team's flight to Gibraltar in 13 days' time, and it's already known that keepers Travers and Caoimhin Kelleher will not travel as they're required for U21 duty in Dublin that same weekend.

With 14 midfielders and eight strikers included it's pretty crowded so not all will make the cut, James McCarthy already told that he needs to get some game time, even if only with Everton's U23 side, before he can be considered after a long lay-off.

One man who didn't get his name in there is veteran Daryl Murphy, who has resisted McCarthy's offer to come out of international retirement. McCarthy said the Nottingham Forest striker, who turns 36 next week, "didn't say no" when asked if he'd answer Ireland's call in an emergency, though it's unlikely we will see Murphy in a green shirt again.

But despite handing a chance to the uncapped Collins and Amond, and speaking very highly of Portsmouth man Ronan Curtis, McCarthy does not have the luxury of taking an axe to the squad he inherited and has instead offered the chance of a second career with Ireland to the likes of McGeady, Whelan and McGoldrick.

The conversation with Whelan was brief and to the point, and the Aston Villa man open to a return despite having a farewell game in Dublin last year.

"I spoke to him and asked him if he had retired. he said 'no, I haven't'. And when I asked if he was available, he said 'yes I am'. That was it," said McCarthy.

"He is fit and playing in the Championship and is playing very well so I am not going to dismiss him, that's for sure."

A common trait for McGeady, Whelan and McGoldrick is that they all fell out of favour with Martin O'Neill. McGoldrick went into self-imposed exile after he took the hump in reaction to not even making the bench for a qualifier at home to Moldova.

Row

He was playing for McCarthy at Ipswich at the time and the new Ireland boss isn't keen to be drawn into a row with his predecessor over McGoldrick's treatment, but McCarthy clearly values the 31-year-old.

"When he got called up he skipped along and came to play, I don't know what happened between him not getting games, no idea, he didn't get picked, he came back and played for me but whenever he was picked he was delighted, more than happy to go and play," says McCarthy, who feels that McGoldrick is now playing the best football of his career with Sheffield United.

"He is a player of wonderful ability, in terms of his touch, his passing and finishing he really is a very talented player, gifted technically."

McCarthy also insists his full focus is on the game in Gibraltar before a bigger test at home to Georgia four days later, the Ireland boss happy with his scouting mission to check on the facilities there last week.


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