Baby steps but significant ones. That was Mick McCarthy’s assessment after witnessing James McCarthy’s first appearance in a Crystal Palace shirt.
On Monday, just days after an £8m (€8.6m) move from Everton, McCarthy anchored the Palace U23 side’s midfield in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, a significant landmark for a player who only played 20 minutes of senior football last season after recovering from a broken leg.
“It was good just to see James out there for 90 minutes on a football pitch,” Ireland boss Mick said ahead of Friday’s squad announcement for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Switzerland and the Aviva Stadium friendly against Bulgaria.
“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 (Palace boss) Roy Hodgson for the game, and I know from talking to Roy just how happy he is to have signed James for Palace.
“Roy is really looking forward to working with James at Palace and so am I with Ireland. I’ve kept in touch with James over the summer and look forward to seeing him back in the international squad.”
The Ireland gaffer was at Bournemouth on Saturday where Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United featured four of his players in their 1-1 draw after their promotion to the Premier League.
“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,” McCarthy said.
David was partnered by new signing Callum (Robinson) upfront and it was interesting to see them work together as a pair. I thought they were impressive together.
Harry Arter, now with Fulham, and Josh Cullen, back at Charlton, were both watched by Ireland scouts in the Championship at the weekend, while assistant manager Terry Connor had another look at Birmingham City arrival Danny Crowley in their 1-1 draw at home to Bristol City.
McCarthy, meanwhile, made the trip to Kenilworth Road last night where he saw Alan Judge play 77 minutes for Ipswich against Luton Town in the Carabao Cup.