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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Mick hopes his Villa duo can be Premier class

Glenn Whelan
Glenn Whelan

Mick McCarthy says he's confident that Ireland pair Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane can deliver in the Premier League for Aston Villa next season - if they can help their club win promotion.

But Dutch-based midfielder Dan Crowley faces a wait before he can win the eye of the Ireland manager after what was a wasted spying mission.

McCarthy has started his preparations for the June double-header in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, away to Denmark and at home to Gibraltar. That includes a training camp in Portugal and a behind-closed-doors game against the Ireland U21 side in Dublin.

He has named a 30-man squad for the Portugal trip, no place for Cyrus Christie or James McCarthy but home-based midfielder Jack Byrne is included, but with five of his players involved in the promotion play-offs, some could miss out if their clubs get to the final.

Success for Villa in their semi-final would deprive McCarthy of Hourihane and Whelan, a price he's willing to pay if it means promotion for the club, and the duo are very much in his plans.

"It wouldn't surprise me if they went up and he was there for a year," McCarthy said of Whelan, who has enjoyed an international revival under McCarthy after he was nudged into retirement by Martin O'Neill.

"He's a really proper player, a proper pro, he was great about the place. Whether he can keep on doing that, his body will tell him. I'm not going to tell him.

"Conor is a really good footballer, he'd have no problem playing there (Premier League). But what will Villa do if they go up? I don't know. They'll be out to, maybe not splash the cash, because they've done that in the past and it hasn't worked out. But he's a very capable player."

McCarthy went to Tilburg on Sunday to see Crowley, a former England U19 cap who has committed to Ireland, play for Willem II against Ajax in the Cup final but due to the fact that Crowley didn't start, and McCarthy had to leave before the end, it was a wasted trip.

"I saw him for about 15 minutes. He barely had anything to do," said McCarthy. "He didn't blow me away because I barely saw him play at all."

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