Irish manager Mick McCarthy has hinted that there won’t be a plethora of changes to his starting XI ahead of Monday’s clash with Group D minnows Gibraltar in Dublin.
McCarthy will be looking to continue his unbeaten start to life back at the Irish helm following a solid 1-1 draw with Denmark in Copenhagen last week.
The Boys in Green went behind with 15 minutes to go but had Shane Duffy to thank as his late header kept them top of the group and McCarthy’s record relatively unblemished in his second spell in charge.
In the draw against Denmark, McCarthy named an unchanged starting XI from the victory over Georgia in March, something that hadn’t been seen from an Irish team since Euro 2016.
There had been the theory that the Irish boss would be making changes for the clash with Gibraltar, given the level of opposition and the opportunity it may present to give fringe players some game time.
McCarthy, however, explained that he doesn’t feel he will make wholesale changes for Monday night’s game with continuity, he feels, an important thing to have.
“I don’t get the sense that there should be wholesale changes, the lads have won two games, drawn one and played ever so well. We’ve got to beat these so I’ll go with what I think is the best team on the pitch.
“I’m not saying I won’t make changes but you know that way when you play well and you win, it’s hard (for the players) to get out of it. It’s their job to stay in it. So, unless I think someone is knackered.
“Continuity is a really good thing; how do you get it? playing the same team if you can. We’re not playing 46 games so I am not having to rotate all the time.”
One player who will be hoping he has done enough to stake a claim in McCarthy’s starting XI is Bristol City midfielder Callum O’Dowda.
The 24-year old had been a crucial part of the Irish starting XI under Martin O’Neill and was having an impressive season in the Championship before picking up a disappointing injury in March and missing the first two qualifiers.
O’Dowda hasn’t played a competitive game since his injury but McCarthy outlined what the talented midfielder has to do to help break back into the Irish side.
“He (has to) keep turning up, keep training like he is, keep playing for his club like he is.”
“He missed a lot at the end of last season because of an injury, but to be fair, over the last three weeks, he has got better and better in training – he looked like he was blowing a bit early on.
“All he can do is turn up and if the opportunity arises and he gets it, he just needs to grab with both hands. Unfortunately for him, as yet the opportunity hasn’t arisen.”