Mick McCarthy has been discussing the attacking options he has selected in his final 23-man Irish squad as Luton Town striker James Collins is included for the first time.
The new Irish boss selected five strikers for the start of the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia but Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis has left the squad through injury.
One man who did make the final 23 is Luton Town striker James Collins. The 28-year old has been in blistering form for the League One leaders this season, netting 20 goals as he earned his first ever call-up to the Irish senior set-up.
Speaking to the media following his final squad announcement, McCarthy outlined his reasoning behind keeping Collins in the squad explaining that his rich vein of form in front of goal makes him “more value than someone who’s not scoring.”
“I do [think he can bring something to the team]. I wouldn’t have named him [otherwise]. It’s not me naming a lower league player for the sake of it.
“James has been around for a long time in the leagues and wherever he’s been, he’s scored goals.”
“He’s got 20 goals this year and my view is 20 goals in [League One] is someone who hits the target on a regular basis, whether it’s left, right or his head. He’s more value to me than someone who’s not scoring.”
Despite his lack of goals as of late, just one this season for Southampton, McCarthy included Shane Long in the squad mentioning that the 32-year-old brings other attacking qualities to the table and that with the right service he’ll be able to find the net.
“Then of course, Shane [Long] hasn’t scored for a long time. But he’s a real handful. He upsets people when he runs in channels and jumps into them. If he gets the right service, I still think he can score.”
McCarthy also left Newport County striker Padraig Amond out of the final squad despite his FA Cup heroics and tremendous form in League Two, while Sheffield United’s Scott Hogan and Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien also missed out on the 23.
The new Irish boss outlined that it was always going to be a tough decision on who to pick as his final attacking options, using Hogan as an example of a player who McCarthy was fond of, but one who he had to exclude based on club form.
“It was going to be one or the other, [Amond or Collins] I think. You look at the strikers we have, I could make an argument for Scott Hogan. I saw him playing for Brentford and in my mind, when I got the job, I’m thinking Scott Hogan is a shoo-inn for me for the way he played at Brentford.
“But he went to Villa, he got injured, he didn’t play, he’s not scored, he’s gone to Sheffield United, he played the other night and still hasn’t scored.
“If he can back to his form at Brentford, he’d be a shoe-in because he was outstanding, he had a great couple of seasons there. But I had to make a decision, simple as that, and James is having a great season.”