If Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford is to find his way to the net for Ireland then, first of all, it would be helpful if he could find his way to a phone.
That was the somewhat exasperated message yesterday from Mick McCarthy who,
“I have been chasing Patrick now for a long time,” McCarthy said. “He wanted to meet me with his dad and I said, ‘fine; I’m cool with that, I’ll come and see you’ but then that got kyboshed. I was going to meet him for the game against QPR but that got cancelled because QPR were still in the cup and he was injured.
“But I’ve been doing all the chasing in terms of trying to get to meet him. I think that it’s time, that if he wants to play, he picks the phone up and gets hold of me, or sends me a WhatsApp that I’ve got all my messages on, you know. He full well knows now that I’ve been doing my damnedest to meet him.
There comes a time where if you want to play, pick the phone up. And by the way, he is not playing for me, he is playing for Ireland. Let me clear this up. I don’t think he’s apathetic about it at all. He’s been injured. But like I said, if you want to play, just pick the phone up or arrange a meeting.
Similarly, McCarthy was unable to report any progress on the possibility of Southampton’s Nathan Redmond declaring for the Republic.
“No. Another one, I’ve been speaking to his agent and trying to meet him,” he said.
Asked if he found this aspect of the job frustrating, McCarthy said: “We still have good players but if I can add to them then it’s my job to do that. I’m not getting frustrated by doing it but there comes a time when someone has to tell me that ‘I want to play’.”
While McCarthy is also ruing the loss, at least until the end of the club season, of Southampton’s Michael Obafemi to a hamstring problem, he thinks the player, and indeed Ireland, can take heart from the recovery made by Seani Maguire at Preston.
“Yeah, I’m really disappointed that Obafemi is injured and that’s a real blow to a kid of 18 but on the upside someone who I saw play the other day against Millwall was Seani Maguire who was excellent and he’s had similar hamstring problems. I’d seen him play at QPR and didn’t fancy him at all. He played on the left and he’d only just come back from injury then. So I’m glad that I went and watched him play up front as a lone striker against Millwall because his movement, his pace and his finishing was excellent.”
Another familiar face for whom McCarthy has high hopes is his former Ipswich player David McGoldrick, now enjoying a new lease of life at Sheffield United.
“David will be in the squad, no doubt about that,” said McCarthy. “If there’s a better striker that we’ve got at the moment on a regular basis...’Didsy’ is playing pretty much every week and has been different class for Sheffield United, who are second in the Championship. He’s living back at home, looking leaner and fitter. Please God there’s no more injuries for him. I’m really pleased with him.”
Regarding other personnel, McCarthy admitted he has a selection headache to resolve if he’s to accommodate Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty, noted that veterans Glenn Whelan and Daryl Murphy have not officially retired yet and said he is keeping an eye on lower league candidates like James Collins at Luton and, after his FA Cup heroics and serial goal-scoring in League Two, Padraig Amond at Notts County.
“I’m not ruling anybody out of anything,” he said. “I don’t think we have that many players that I can afford to.”
However, it does seem that, after his long absence with a severely broken leg, Everton’s James McCarthy is in a race against (game) time if he is to put himself back in the frame for the start of the Euro qualifiers.
“I’ve spoken to James,” said McCarthy.
I asked him before the (transfer) deadline if he could get out on loan anywhere. I’ve been in touch with him since about getting Under-23 games, just to get some game-time. If he got two or three Under-23 games, I’d be happy to have him in the squad. It’s hard to pick players who haven’t played at all.
Meanwhile, McCarthy has conceded that Gibraltar getting the green light to host their opening game against Ireland on their own artificial turf will be a boost for the minnows.
“It gives them a better chance with home advantage,” he said. “Anything that can help them try to upset the apple cart, of course it does.”
McCarthy flies to Gibraltar today to see the Victoria Ground for himself but has already decided that Ireland will prepare for the game on March 23 by training on the 4G pitch in Abbotstown.