Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has hinted that he may have a difficult decision on his hands at right-back ahead of the first set of qualifiers at the end of March.
Wolves’ Matt Doherty has arguably been the standout player in his position in the Premier League this season however Ireland’s first choice on the right has been captain Seamus Coleman for the last number of years.
Coleman has struggled for form at his club Everton this season but has consistently been one of Ireland’s finest players when donning a green shirt.
The general consensus among Irish fans is that McCarthy will find a way to incorporate both players into his first choice starting XI come March, but the new boss hinted that he may just choose one of the two options.
“Only if I play two right-backs!” said, McCarthy, when asked if both could fit into his team.
“Well I’ve just been asked that question, how am I going to fit them into the same team? So I go, who knows?
“I might play Doherty tucked in or wide-right, I might not as well.
“How am I going to solve that conundrum was the question? Well I’m going to pick one of them and then I’m going to come in here and talk to all you guys [reporters] about the one I haven’t picked.
“How wonderful he is, how gifted he is, how he should have been playing….but he’s not because I’ve picked the other one.
“And you won’t talk about the other one that’s in the team, you’ll only want to know about the one that’s not so I’m ready for that.”
McCarthy also outlined that he sees Doherty as a “full-back” but the current form of Sheffield United’s Enda Stevens at left-back means that it’s unlikely to be a position where the Wolves man will be first choice.
“If I’ve got a left-back playing as well as Enda Stevens for Sheffield United, who’s having a really good season, and he’s playing as a wing-back pretty much most of the time [Doherty], he’s a right back.
“But would I have a problem playing him at left-back if there’s something wrong? No I wouldn’t because he had a really good season there and did very, very well.”
Should McCarthy opt to play Doherty at right-back and not include Coleman at all, then the issue of a new captain would arise.
The former Ipswich boss outlined that although he hasn’t picked a captain yet, there is no reason why, provided he plays, it wouldn’t be the Everton man.
“I haven’t had a team yet so I haven’t got a captain as of yet. I think he’s a good captain [Coleman], I think he’s a really good role model as a footballer, how he’s gotten to where he is and stayed where he is, how he conducts himself, how he trains, his professionalism.
“If I am picking one [a captain], which I haven’t yet, there wouldn’t be any reason why I wouldn’t pick him as a captain.
Mick McCarthy was speaking at the official relaunch of the Club Ireland memberships, a distinct Premium Level offering from the general admission season tickets. Membership of Club Ireland is on sale from today Wednesday, 27 February and can be purchased VIA: fai.ie/clubireland; by emailing Club Ireland email@example.com or by calling 01 899 9547.