Minds back on the job as D-Day dawns for Ireland

After a late night of starkly contrasting fortunes, James McCarthy and Shane Long were up bright and early yesterday to fly into Dublin and take a full part in Ireland squad training at Malahide.

Minds back on the job as D-Day dawns for Ireland

For McCarthy, the closure of the transfer window on Monday had brought elation, his move from Championship club Wigan to Premier League outfit Everton finally confirmed with just minutes to go to the deadline.

But for Long, the 11pm cut-off had brought only bewilderment as his proposed surprise move from West Brom to Hull City was scuppered just when it seemed to be over the line.

Yesterday at Gannon Park, however, Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli said he believed the Tipperary striker would see Friday’s World Cup game against Sweden as an immediate chance to end a frustrating week on a positive note.

Insisting the player would not be distracted by his manic Monday, Tardelli said: “Shane is a goodprofessional and now this is an opportunity to show his coach and the other coach that somebody is wrong, that is my opinion. We have three days still to prepare and I think he will be fit for the match in his mind.”

International colleagues of Long were also sure the player would respond to the strange turn of events.

“I don’t think it will be a distraction,” said fellow striker Jon Walters, having just finished training with Long. “I think it would have been a bit of madness for West Brom to let him go in the first place. Maybe it’s not what the manager wanted. Shane is pretty happy, he’s been doing pretty well there in the last couple of years and I expect it will continue that way. He’s a level-headed guy. There’s no problem with Shane at all, it was back to the same old thing today.”

According to reports, Hull City boss Steve Bruce had begun transfer deadline day on the trail of Wolves’ Kevin Doyle, but when he saw West Brom were in the market for strikers, decided to go in for Long, a player he admires greatly.

That bid saw the Tipperary man being given permission to leave the Irish camp and fly to England to meet up with Bruce. Having undergone a medical in Leeds, Long then travelled to Hull to sign at the club’s training ground at 10.30pm. But the deal was scrapped at almost literally the 11th hour by West Brom after they failed to take Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku on-loan for a second time.

The extent to which the day’s developments had taken almost everyone by surprise was summed up yesterday by Nottingham Forest’s Simon Cox who, in common with nearly all the Ireland players, had been following the transfer twists and turns on television and Twitter at the squad’s Portmarnock hotel.

“Shane was away and he was back in,” said Cox. “Not a lot of people knew he’d left, to be honest, because it all happened quite quickly.

“I know [West Brom boss] Steve Clarke really likes Shane and I don’t think he would have wanted him to leave at all. It is one of those things: when clubs like you, they put bids in and it doesn’t matter how much or how little it is, it’s up to the other club whether they accept or not.”

The problem for Long, however, is that while he knows he was wanted at Hull, fresh acquisitions at West Brom mean he can’t now be sure of the extent of his involvement back at the Hawthorns.

With Albion having signed strikers Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe from Sunderland and Everton respectively before the window shut, Long is now one of six forwards competing for two spots.

There is now a widespread belief that the player will move on in the January window.

By contrast, McCarthy’s immediate future at club level is crystal clear following his £14 million transfer from Wigan to Everton where he will link up again with his former manager Roberto Martinez.

The transfer fee will inevitably bring high expectations, but McCarthy is confident he can live up to the billing.

“I believe in my ability and I will give it my best shot,” he said. “It is the kind of thing that you dream of as a young kid, going to a big stadium like Goodison Park, and I can’t wait to get out there.”

McCarthy admitted there were a few nervous moments on Monday night before the deal was finally done.

“The last few hours were nerve-racking,” he said. “I was sitting at home and phone calls were coming and going and once I knew Everton were interested there was no going back. To be honest I was speechless.”

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