Glenn Whelan’s move to League One Fleetwood Town will not adversely impact his chances of starting against Slovakia, according to Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.
The 36-year-old moved to Joey Barton’s side last month after his disappointing exit from Scottish club Hearts after falling out of favour with new manager Daniel Stendel.
Whelan found himself without a club for a couple of weeks, before making the move to Fleetwood Town, who currently sit ninth in League One, just three points off the playoffs.
The midfielder has started all four of his games for the Trawlermen since his arrival and has so far been a crucial part of McCarthy’s second spell in charge of the Boys in Green.
Does the Ireland manager, however, feel that Whelan being forced to drop down the divisions will affect his chances of starting March’s crucial playoff against Slovakia?
“No, not at all,” he began.
“He was playing in Hearts before. I’m not teaching Glenn Whelan any new tricks. I’m not showing him anything new. Glenn Whelan, as long as he’s fit…
“He’ll be running around just as hard in the first division as he was anywhere else, so as long as he’s fit, and playing (he’ll be involved)”
A host of young Irish midfielders have been impressing in the Championship this season, such as Jayson Molumby and Josh Cullen, while James McCarthy has forced his way back into first-team action with Crystal Palace.
Whelan though has been one of Ireland’s strongest performers in this Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and his experience will likely see him given the nod against Slovakia.
McCarthy explained that, for him, continuity will be key and that he is isn’t expecting major changes when Ireland travel to Bratislava in March.
“It’s interesting,” he said.
“I’ll get all these names thrown at me. They’ll come in and want to play the very first game.
“Continuity has been at the base of all my teams and we’ve had that pretty much with the squad.
“The best performance was the Denmark game. I did point out to somebody if I’d been at a club for 10 games, and we had the results we’ve had, you’d expect us to be getting better after 10 games, doing exactly the same thing, or at least trying to.
“So, there’s not going to be big change, that’s for sure. If the lads who’ve been playing are fit, they’ll be first in contention.”