Josh Cullen has been drafted in to the senior Irish squad for the first time with Kevin Long also added to the panel for the games against Gibraltar and Georgia. Mick McCarthy has had to replace injured players, Ronan Curtis and Alan Browne.
Cullen did not even make the original squad of 38 named last week for the games by McCarthy but the manager said on Thursday that he had seen the midfielder, who is on loan to Charlton from West Ham, only this week and been impressed by him. At the time, though, he was unsure whether he could call him up at such short notice.
“I was at Charlton the other night and I thought Josh Cullen played really well,” he said. “I watched him Tuesday night, against Burton, he played really well, which I was pleased with because we don’t have too many doing that job at the base of the diamond. But getting anybody outside my initial squad might prove difficult.”
Last year’s Irish Under-21 Player of the Year will, it seems, be able to join up with the squad, however. The Essex born midfielder has played a handful of games for West Ham over the past couple of seasons but the bulk of his competitive football has come in loan spells at Bradford, Bolton and Charlton.
Long, meanwhile, was became something of a regular for Ireland under Martin O’Neill and his initial omission from the 23 for these European Championship games was something of a surprise. He comes in now despite not appearing to be a like for like replace for either of the players who McCarthy has lost.
The squad is due to gather in Dublin on Sunday and train for the first time on Monday morning before travelling to Gibraltar next Thursday, two days before the first of the games.