Aaron Connolly is very much in Mick McCarthy’s mind for a starting place in Geneva tomorrow night but if the Brighton bright spark is to be given the nod, the manager suggests he might need support up front.
“Absolutely, yeah,” McCarthy replied when asked if the 19-year-old is a contender to start against Switzerland after a promising late cameo on his senior debut in the scoreless draw with Georgia in Tbilisi on
“Well, you’ve seen him come on and do what he’s done,” said the manager. “There’s always that ‘well, why didn’t he start? Well, when you’re at the last 10 or 12 minutes, somebody who comes on like that can run in behind. If he’d started, he might not have been the same. But we’ve seen what he can do and we might have to have a bit of help with him.
“He certainly won’t be a lone runner.”
With David McGoldrick definitely out of the equation — he texted the manager with the not unexpected news on Saturday — McCarthy said he would consider all his options if he decides to play two up front.
“Scott Hogan has done well when he comes on as a sub, he has changed things,” he said. “Seanie is doing well at club level. Any options that I have got - if I decide to do that — I will consider them.
Or it could be one up top with one in behind. Judgy (Alan Judge) has played there so we will see.” McCarthy admitted that the Irish players were disappointed with their performance in Tbilisi, especially their lack of composure on the ball.
“They weren’t in the dressing room cheering and hollering and whooping because we’ve come away with a point,” he said. “But I just made it plain to them that I appreciate what they’re doing for me, for the team and for the country. Because they’ve grafted again to get the point. And I’m just at a loss, me, why everyone just thinks we should go there and win. You’ve all seen how good Georgia can be.
“I asked them, ‘would you have taken four points before we started, beat them at home and draw away’? They weren’t all saying, ‘yeah’. And I said, ‘well, I would’. Because that’s how you qualify, that’s how you win things. It might not end up like that, I know that, but winning at home and drawing away is not a bad recipe. Denmark drew there as well — and could have lost the game.”
And McCarthy is happy to apply the same logic to tomorrow night’s game against Switzerland.
“A point would be brilliant in Geneva, it would be a fabulous point,” he declared. “You saw how good they were in our place, what a good team they are, and now we’re going to play in their back yard. If you’re asking me would I take a point away — absolutely.”
But he conceded that he wants his players to be better on the ball than they were in Tbilisi.
“Yes, and they would too. To be honest, if there was any disappointment in the dressing room on Saturday, it was to do with our performance with the ball. Because we came away with a clean sheet again. There’s times when you don’t play particularly well and you get beat. We’ve didn’t play particularly well with the ball but we haven’t been beaten. And those players have played well so far, you know. So they had a bit of an off day with the ball but they did all the other stuff which helped get us a point.”
And he’s certain there that any immediate sense of disappointment from Saturday will have been banished by the tight turnaround to tomorrow night’s match.
“They will be delighted, absolutely, they wouldn’t want to wait a week to play again,” he said.
Players like playing, they want to play. And if you have played not as well as you thought that you should have done in any one particular aspect, then you will want to make it better the next time that you play.
While McCarthy was satisfied with Matt Doherty’s performance at left-full in Georgia, Enda Stevens can be expected to return from suspension for the game against the Swiss. That will leave just one regular missing from the back four but McCarthy will not be unduly worried given how well John Egan performed in Tbilisi.
“John was very good,” he said. “He has just been unlucky and then maybe lucky that an injury occurred to Richard Keogh and that he cannot play. John has always been a good centre half but could not get into the team because the two of them (Keogh and Shane Duffy) were playing well. That’s just like Kevin Long whom I felt sorry for. I would have played him had Duffer not turned up. It was explained to him that had he been playing as well as Shane and scored the goal that he did, I would have expected to wait for him. And he was great, Shane. (Injury-wise) there have been no problems with him at all, he has been fine. We’ll just see how he recovers after the travel.”