Mick McCarthy confirmed that 18-year old midfielder Luca Connell is out of the upcoming European qualifiers with Denmark and Gibraltar with a thigh injury, but praised the Bolton man’s influence during the Portuguese training camp.
McCarthy sprung a surprise by including Connell in his squad for the upcoming qualifiers and had been full of praise for the young star throughout the week, explaining that he was a “breath of fresh air” for the squad.
With the Irish team now back in Dublin as they prepare for the first game of the doubleheader against Denmark in Copenhagen, McCarthy confirmed that Connell has after suffering a thigh injury.
“He’s just gone home today, McCarthy said in a press conference on Wednesday.
“He has an injury, a thigh strain.”
The injury is no doubt a blow for Connell and Ireland with his inclusion an exciting addition to the squad and many Irish fans hoped that he would see some game time on his first call up to the senior setup.
McCarthy once again took the time out to praise the Irish U19s international following his impressive few days during the Portuguese training camp, outlining that the whole squad was sad to see him leave with an injury.
“Yeah, he was excellent. Lovely personality about him, really pleasant lovely young fella. He stood up in training and stood out, I think everybody was impressed with him.
“I saw him saying goodbye to everyone and each of the lads gave him a hug and said good luck, get fit and get back soon. Everybody took to him as a person and as a player, and it’s sad for him to be going because it’s a great opportunity for him.”
Connell was born in Liverpool but is eligible to play for Ireland thanks to his grandparents who were born in Dublin and has done so since U17 level.
Speaking to FAITV during the week McCarthy compared the 18-year old to former Irish international Jason McAteer.
“Well, I hope he has as successful a career as Jason McAteer had. He’s such a lovely kid, warm and friendly as well, and Jason was just the same.
“Whenever I see Jason now I get a big hug off him, he was a great kid too with a great personality. There are similarities definitely.
“If he can have as good a career and score as important a goal for my career as Jason scored against Holland then I’d be thrilled with him. He’s been great, I’m delighted with him.”