Mick McCarthy: Aaron Connolly is now ‘in contention’

‘I’ve said all along: get in a Premier League team then you are going to be in contention’

Aaron Connolly during an Ireland training session on Monday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Aaron Connolly during an Ireland training session on Monday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Mick McCarthy says he has told Shane Duffy there will be a place kept for him on Thursday’s flight to Tbilisi and the manager says he is “more optimistic” now than he was last week that the Derryman will be fit enough to occupy it.

Aaron Connolly, he is genuinely confident, however, is ready to play for Ireland this Saturday if selected.

McCarthy says that the way the 19 year-old played for Brighton on his full Premier League debut and the way he took his goals, have confirmed his readiness to make the move into the senior international football as far as he is concerned.

“I wouldn’t have put him in the squad if I didn’t think so,” he said just before the Irish players trained for the first time this week out at Abbotstown.

“He was excellent. His goals were both very good. People talk about his second one but I thought his first one was brilliant, because his movement was so good. He got across the defender and then having had it saved, he had the presence of mind... he didn’t just have a little dig at it and run off; he spun and put it in the net.”

Asked if he had been surprised by the quality of the 19 year-old’s performance, McCarthy said no but, he acknowledged, he was: “pleased by it.

“Somebody has to play him at some stage and I’m glad that Brighton have done it but don’t forget that he has come in and done well when he had been used as a substitute. I was delighted when I saw him against Armenia but that’s a completely different thing to him coming into the Premier League.

“Against Armenia I thought he played really well. Then TC (Terry Conroy) went to see him play against Villa. He was delighted with him in that. He went to see Troy (Parrott) on the Tuesday and Aaron on the Wednesday and it was Aaron who caught his eye; well, Spurs lost at Colchester anyway.

“So, no, I’m not surprised by him; I’m delighted by his performances. And I’ve said all along: get in a Premier League team then you are going to be in contention for us.”

Pressed about the fitness of Duffy and David McGoldrick, who are still back at their clubs working with the respective medical teams, McCarthy, who strongly hinted that Matt Doherty will start at left back this weekend, said that he would give the pair every chance to make the flight to Tbilisi and then, if they do miss that, offer them the opportunity to come in for the game in Geneva once they are fit enough to feature.

“I’ve just told Shane, via a text message, that the plane is leaving at 2pm (on Thursday) from Dublin Airport to Tbilisi, ‘so we’ll keep a seat with extra leg room as we always do; don’t be late’.

“Didsy, I haven’t spoken to, but he’s been on the grass, he’s been training, and as I said they are all far more optimistic about being involved, and if they don’t come to Tbilisi, they can get a flight to Geneva and we’ll see them there if they are fit for that game.”

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