Irish manager Mick McCarthy has highlighted a number of players who have impressed him at club level, including Michael Obafemi, ahead of March’s Euro 2020 playoff against Slovakia.
Obafemi has featured frequently for Southampton’s first team in the Premier League this season and in the absence of Shane Long, the 19-year-old started in their FA Cup draw against Spurs at the weekend.
McCarthy was in attendance for that game and outlined that he was very impressed by Obafemi in what was his first time seeing the striker live.
“I’ve had Michael watched several times but this was the first time I’ve seen him live myself and I did like what I saw,” McCarthy told FAI.ie
“He linked up well with Danny Ings, he got in behind the Spurs defence and while he didn’t have that many shots himself, he was a constant nuisance for the opposition.
“Michael did all the things I expected of him very well. We had Southampton watched when they won at Crystal Palace recently and the reports on Michael, Shane and James McCarthy were all very positive.
“Like all our players, Michael is benefitting from regular first team football and he certainly gave me something to think about on Saturday. I’ll be back to watch him again and to have a look at Shane.
“I’ve also kept in regular contact with Shane and I’ve repeatedly told him that his return to form with his club will count for March.”
Portsmouth striker Ronan Curtis is another who has caught McCarthy’s eye with his recent form for Portsmouth as he looks to regain his place in the Irish squad.
Curtis has found the net 12 times for the League One club and scored over the weekend in Portsmouth’s 4-3 win over Barnsley.
“He scored against my hometown club but I won’t hold that against him,” laughed McCarthy. “Seriously Ronan has been in great form of late.
“He’s got 12 goals this season and he was the League One Player of the Month for November and December so he is right back in contention for a call-up for the Slovakia game.
“Ronan, like Michael Obafemi and Shane Long, is one of a number of Irish players coming into form right now which is great news at this point in the season.
“I said last year that once we got to January the time flew until the qualifiers in March and I expect it will be the same for the play-off. We just need these players to keep fit, keep playing well and keep giving me a headache about the squad selection.”
In addition McCarthy also highlighted a number of younger players who have impressed him as of late, including the likes of Jayson Molumby at Millwall and Conor Masterson at QPR.
“We are putting the miles in and I can promise the fans that no stone will be left unturned between now and the end of the March,” continued the Republic boss.
“Will (Keane) got his passport sorted last year but he has struggled with injuries until now and we will keep an eye on him at Ipswich. Jayson Molumby is impressing everyone at Millwall while Jason Knight, Conor Masterson and Dara O’Shea are all taking their chance in the Championship at present which is great for us.”
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