McCarthy had to reassure Connolly that Ireland call-up was not a ‘wind-up’

Brighton teenager received call after scoring two goals against Spurs last weekend

Aaron Connolly during an Ireland training session at the Boris Paichadze Arena ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Georgia on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Aaron Connolly during an Ireland training session at the Boris Paichadze Arena ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Georgia on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Mick McCarthy has admitted he had to reassure teenager Aaron Connolly that it was him on the phone when he called him into the senior Republic of Ireland squad.

The 19-year-old was added to the travelling party for the Euro 2020 qualifiers in Georgia and Switzerland within hours of starring in Brighton’s 3-0 Premier League win over Tottenham last Saturday.

Connolly revealed during the week that he initially thought it was a “wind-up” when he was told club boss Graham Potter was trying to get hold of him.

Asked about his conversation with the Under-21 international, the Ireland manager said: “Yeah, but there’s a number of people who take me off fairly well.

“Apparently it’s a very easy one to take off, so I did say to him I’d text him my number so he knew when I was calling.

“And when I called him, I said ‘Aaron, look it’s Mick McCarthy – and it is Mick McCarthy, it’s not someone who’s taking him off’.

“How I can convince him of that, I don’t know – someone else might say that to him. Anyway, he believed me, it was all right. He knew he was getting the call because he’d been texted.”

Connolly could be handed a debut in Tbilisi on Saturday evening as Ireland attempt to secure three more Group D points ahead of a tough trip to Switzerland on Tuesday and next month’s home clash with Denmark.

McCarthy famously blooded Robbie Keane, who went on to become the country’s record international goalscorer with 68, as a teenager during his first spell as Ireland boss.

However, he was not about to compare his latest young hopeful with a man who is now part of his coaching set-up.

He said: “If you don’t mind, I’ll wait and see him have a few games and see how he does before I start comparing him to Robbie Keane in any shape or form.

“I think we should just let him make his debut and when he does, let’s see how he does. I would love to be comparing him to Robbie at some stage, but I’m not going to start that now.”

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