McCarthy happy with senior snub
IRELAND U21 boss Noel King insists that there's no rift between Wigan star James McCarthy and the Irish management team.
Eyebrows were raised when midfielder McCarthy failed to earn inclusion in the 29-man squad named by Giovanni Trapattoni earlier this week for next month's senior international against Wales in Dublin.
McCarthy will instead be in Cyprus with the U21 squad for a friendly.
McCarthy had been out since October due to an ankle injury picked up while on duty with Wigan but he was back in the Wigan squad last weekend and returned to the team for their midweek game against Aston Villa, McCarthy scoring in a 2-1 defeat.
It's hard to see the logic in leaving McCarthy out of the senior squad while players who have not played for their clubs recently due to injury or loss of form (Paul Green was recently dropped by struggling Derby and defenders Paul McShane, Stephen Kelly and Kevin Foley have not played for their clubs in weeks) are in ahead of him.
There were even revived fears in some quarters that McCarthy, who has not been involved with the Irish senior team in almost a year, could defect back to Scotland in frustration at his treatment -- and Scotland boss Craig Levein is a self-confessed fan of the midfielder -- but King says that the player is as committed as ever to Ireland.
"I spoke to James and he is very happy to come to Cyprus and play for us if he's fit and able," said King after including McCarthy in a 19-man squad for the away friendly, which takes place the day after the senior clash with Wales.
"Him not being in the senior squad wasn't even mentioned, he is keen to play for Ireland and that's not in doubt.
"I hope James will be able to play in Cyprus but we'll see how it goes.
"He played on Tuesday against Aston Villa, it's not clear if he'll be involved for Wigan in the Cup against Bolton at the weekend but he might be in for their league game next week."
King has included 11 players uncapped at this level in his panel as a batch of players have been promoted from the U19s.
American-born forward Conor Doyle, who has been training with the USA U20 side in recent months but is eligible for Ireland though his Dublin-born dad, is involved with Ireland for the first time, while Hull City man Jamie Devitt is also hoping for his U21 debut.
Everton man Shane Duffy, frustrated at the lack of first team action at Goodison Park, received a boost with his call-up.
And King has also included two Cypriot-based players for the game in Larnaca, as Dubliners Michael Collins and Robbie Gibbons are attached to clubs in Cyprus.
IRELAND U21 squad v Cyprus
Ritchie Branagan (Bury), Ian McLoughlin (Ipswich); Gavin Gunning (Blackburn), Shane Duffy (Everton), Rob Kiernan (Bradford), Mark Connolly (Bolton), Richie Towell (Hibs), John Dunleavy (Barnet), Shane O'Connor (Ipswich); James McCarthy (Wigan), Conor Clifford (Chelsea), Conor Hourihane (Ipswich), Aaron Doran (Inverness), Jamie Devitt (Hull); Conor Doyle (Derby), Robbie Brady (Man Utd), James Collins (Shrewsbury), Michael Collins (APEP Cyprus), Robbie Gibbons (Alki Larnaca, Cyprus).