Now that his injury woes appear to be firmly behind him, a return from the international wilderness is on the cards for midfielder James McCarthy under Stephen Kenny.
“James McCarthy is an exceptional talent and he's played 22 games for Crystal Palace this year and we want to increase our options and hopefully he gets a run of games without injury,” said the Ireland manager.
"It's great to have players available for selection as it increases competition.
“Harry Arter has not featured in the campaign bar for a few minutes in Gibraltar, but he’s been in the system since U16s with Ireland and is having a good season with Fulham.
“Jayson Molumby captained the 21s and is trying to get Millwall promoted. It's good to increase our options as competition drives people to be better and that is important.
“Shane Long, I saw him play not long before the lockdown and he scored against Tottenham in the FA Cup and scored a few goals generally in that period and we need competition in all of those areas.
”David McGoldrick, his international career has come late and he's at the peak of his career. He's the focal point in a team competing for a Champions League place.
“People say he’s not a prolific scorer but he got 15 goals getting Sheffield United promoted. He's a creator of goals and we have good young strikers coming through and he can complement them with his attributes, his awareness, technical ability, and tactical awareness and vision. He can have a big impact on their careers so he's very important.”
With confirmation yesterday from UEFA of Ireland’s hectic Autumn schedule – beginning with the triple-header of the new manager's first game in charge, away to Bulgaria in the Nations League on September 3rd, followed by Finland at home on September 6th.and then the big one, the Euros play-off against Slovakia in Bratislava on October 8 – Kenny can now sharpen his focus on preparations for the matches to come.Not that he and his coaching staff have been idle in the downtime.
“We have analysed all eight games in the campaign so far and we’ve got a good look at Bulgaria and all their games in the campaign, as well as Finland and Wales and we’ve focused on Slovakia of course,” he told FAI TV.
“We have maximised the opportunity to get as much information as we can.
”The former Dundalk manager said he is very conscious of how challenging the cessation of football in Ireland has been for local players.
”It's been a really tough time for players in the League of Ireland. Some clubs have fulfilled their obligations and some have been unable to. Some players have very little money to pay rent and provide for their families and that can be difficult.
“We have seen it in England in League 1 and League 2 where their seasons have been wound down and Irish players with those clubs have been finding it difficult. You just hope it will improve and that there will be better times ahead.”
Asked what message he would send to Ireland supporters, Kenny replied: “Some fans travel far and wide to see the national team and that’s difficult now with games behind closed doors. There has been speculation about supporters in September but we don't know. If you have to play behind closed doors, sometimes in life you have to adapt and we realise that.
“But it’s great to have football back - it’s the lifeblood of sport in the country. International football, people really look forward to the games and are excited by the players. The games in September, we can look forward to them now.”