Mick McCarthy says he's looking forward to seeing James McCarthy back in the Republic of Ireland squad.
The Ireland boss watched Crystal Palace's £8m signing play for his new club's U23 side alongside Palace manager Roy Hodgson yesterday.
The game against Birmingham City, which also featured Irish goalkeeper Stephen Henderson and a substitute appearance for underage international Kian Flanagan, ended 1-1.
“It was good just to see James out there for 90 minutes on a football pitch,” Mick McCarthy told the FAI ahead of Friday’s squad announcement for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Switzerland.
“James has had a terrible time with injury so getting game time now is vital for him. What was important was that he played. I know one of the reasons James wanted to move from Everton was to get more football after playing so little last season following his injury.
“These are only baby steps for him but he is back now and looking forward to a new start with Palace. I sat beside Roy Hodgson for the game and I know from talking to Roy just how happy he is to have signed James for Palace.
“The fact that I got to see Stephen Henderson and young Kian Flanagan play as well was a bonus. I know Wayne, Stephen’s uncle, well so it was good to get a look at him while Kian has played for us at underage level and is only 20 later this month.”
The Ireland manager also watched Sheffield United's 1-1 draw away to Bournemouth on Saturday, which starred four Irish starters for the Blades, including a debut for attacker Callum Robinson.
“I always thought Chris Wilder would stick with the players who got him promotion so I expected to see John Egan, Enda Stevens, and David McGoldrick start,” he said.
“David was partnered by new signing Callum upfront and it was interesting to see them work together as a pair. I thought they were impressive together.”
McCarthy is in Luton tonight to watch James Collins' hosts welcome McCarthy's old club Ipswich Town, who include Alan Judge among their ranks, in the Carabao Cup.
“We’ve had James watched a couple of times already this season and I am looking forward to seeing him for myself.
“I also hope Alan plays for Ipswich. He was so good for us when he went on in the Denmark game and was really unlucky to break his wrist in the final move of the game. Alan had a great chance of starting against Gibraltar only for that injury so I’m delighted he is fit again.”
McCarthy's assistant Terry Connor went to Birmingham City's 1-1 draw at home to Bristol City on Saturday for another look at potential Ireland recruit Danny Crowley, who McCarthy scouted last Tuesday.
Harry Arter, now with Fulham, and Josh Cullen, back at Charlton, were both watched by Ireland scouts in the Championship.
Meanwhile, Robbie Brady's fractured rib is expected to keep him out for another 10 days, giving him two weeks to gain fitness for the Switzerland game.