McCarthy impressed by Byrne but Coleman's injury 'not good news' for Ireland

Having left his seat in Tallaght just before the winning strike, the Ireland manager says he had already seen enough of the midfielder’s performance to give him “plenty to think about” as he ponders his squad for the Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia.

McCarthy impressed by Byrne but Coleman's injury 'not good news' for Ireland

Mick McCarthy might only have seen an action replay of Jack Byrne’s goal for Shamrock Rovers against Dundalk last Friday but, having left his seat in Tallaght just before the winning strike, the Ireland manager says he had already seen enough of the midfielder’s performance to give him “plenty to think about” as he ponders his squad for the Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia.

McCarthy told FAI.ie: “I did see Jack’s goal – on my phone in the car! And yes, it was a great goal and maybe as good as the earlier Jordan Flores strike for Dundalk that has been seen by so many across the globe by now, and rightly so.

“What did impress me on the night was Jack’s ability to see a pass and make the pass. Plenty of players can see a pass but Jack is able to play the ball as well and that was a key factor in the game.

He certainly gave me plenty to think about with that performance and I loved everything about the game. The atmosphere was electric, the record crowd had a real buzz about them and it was a great advert for the League.

As the run-in accelerates towards the game in Bratislava on March 26, McCarthy has a fresh injury concern on his mind, with Seamus Coleman a serious doubt after a quad injury forced him out of Everton’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

“Our thoughts are with Seamus now,” said the manager as the full-back awaits analysis of a scan. “Our doctor Alan Byrne has been in touch with the medical team at Everton and we will wait on their prognosis.

“It’s not good news as of now but, like James McClean, Seamus is a fighter and he will do everything he can do to be on the plane to Slovakia. We will keep our fingers crossed for him.”

While Matt Doherty would be a logical replacement for Coleman, alternative cover could be provided by Cyrus Christie who, though out of the Irish picture for some time, caught McCarthy's eye at Craven Cottage as Fulham beat Preston at the weekend.

“I went there to have a look at Sean Maguire and Alan Browne primarily but Cyrus was the happier of the three of them by the final whistle,” said McCarthy.

“He was a ninth-minute substitute for Fulham and he came on and played really well for the rest of the game in what was a very big win for Fulham.”

Meanwhile, in-form Scott Hogan was probably the most notable Irish scorer of the weekend, as he made it six goals in seven games for Birmingham in their 2-2 draw with QPR. Elsewhere, Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Matt Doherty (Spurs), James Collins (Luton) and Jason Knight (Derby) were all on target too.

“Our players are scoring at just the right time as we get closer to Slovakia,” said McCarthy. “Michael will be delighted to have scored after getting the nod to start up-front with Shane, and Matt is getting plenty of chances at Wolves and taking them.

“Scott is on fire at Birmingham and really looks like he is proving a point to himself never mind to anyone else after moving there on loan in the January window. We’ve watched Jason and James a lot in the Championship this season and it is good to see them on the scoresheet as well.

“I don’t care who gets the goals in Slovakia so long as we get goals and there are plenty of Irish players enjoying the goalscoring habit now which I’m sure everyone who wants that play-off win is delighted with, me included.”

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