Mick McCarthy insists he can get goals out of Ireland players
Manager announces squad for Euro qualifiers with Gibraltar and Georgia
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy: ‘I’d sooner have someone who, if a chance falls to him, might just put it in the net.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Mick McCarthy is adamant that he can coax a major improvement out of much the same squad of Ireland players in the months ahead, and insists there are goals in a group that includes strikers – named for the first time – from both League One and League Two.
“I’m not going to sit in here and tell you what I’m going to do,” said the manager when asked – at the announcement on Thursday of his extended squad for the European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia – just how he can revitalise a side that scored just four times in nine games last year.
“I’ll get them in and we’ll work with them. And they have goals in them, in terms of players who have been scoring this year. David McGoldrick’s been scoring goals [11 in 34], Callum [O’Dowda] has been in the goals [five since mid-December], Ronan Curtis has scored [11 since joining Portsmouth last summer].
“You can say it’s Portsmouth, you can say it’s Bristol City but . . . Alan Browne’s got 12 goals this season, Conor [Hourihane] got two last week [against Derby]. Sean Maguire’s been scoring goals [two in his last four games after a long barren spell which was at least partly down to injury issues]. Can they bring that to the international team? Can I get it out of them? Can I get them to score goals? Can we play a way that enables them to score goals? We’ll find out.”
McCarthy is clearly a particular fan of McGoldrick, who played for him at Ipswich but never quite, the manager believes, achieved his potential on a sustained basis because of the injury problems he endured.
“He is a player of wonderful ability; really top, top level in terms of his touch, his passing and finishing, and he really is a very talented player, gifted technically.
“Him and Murph [Daryl Murphy] were excellent [at Portman Road], but he was blighted by injuries, his family were living in Nottingham and I think he was spending a fair bit of his time in his car between there and Ipswich.
“I said to [Sheffield United boss] Chris Wilder to absolutely take him, you’d be bonkers, on a free transfer, not to take him and they’d say the same things about him now.”
That all said, the 31-year-old is in and out of the team right now and, after a run of six goals in nine games not so long ago, has failed to find the net in his last four appearances, two of them from the bench. McCarthy says he not overly concerned.
“I know Chris and he likes to freshen his strikers up,” he says. “Gary Madine is playing and Billy Sharp’s just been brilliant, scoring his goals.
“So he’s been mixing it up and Didsy [McGoldrick] is just having to wait his turn. But, if anything, I’m cool with that because he’ll be fresh. It’s not like he hasn’t been playing games. This season has probably been his best in terms of appearances, for a long time anyway. And he played well when he came on [against Sheffield Wednesday on Monday]. He’s a good player, Didsy, a really good footballer.”
McCarthy sounds like he still expects Leeds striker Patrick Bamford to make himself available before the summer, and the pair are due to meet in the coming weeks, but he stressed that he has other options he is happy to have a look at.
Luton Town’s James Collins and Newport County’s Pádraig Amond are both included in this group of 38, which McCarthy says he will start trimming next week, and the manager says he sets a fair bit of store by the fact that, with 20 goals in League One and 21 in League Two plus, of course, the FA Cup, respectively, they are going particularly well just now.
“If you have someone in a rich vein of form, goalscorers, you may require that at some stage,” he said when asked about the fact that their goals were largely scored in the lower leagues. “Putting someone on who has not scored 20 goals in a season . . . I’d sooner have someone who, if a chance falls to him, might just put it in the net. That’s the way I am looking at it.”