Irish manager Mick McCarthy has expressed his concerns over the lack of playing time for some of his key players ahead of the upcoming games against Switzerland and Bulgaria.
McCarthy has a number of players not featuring for their respective clubs and outlined that he may hold off on naming his final 23-man squad until late next week.
His 40-man squad must be whittled down ahead of a crucial Group D game against Switzerland at the Aviva which is followed by a friendly against Bulgaria.
Speaking on the FAI’s website, McCarthy first mentioned Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick who has yet to feature competitively this season for the Clarets but did play in a behind closed doors game on Wednesday.
Hendrick is a player that the Irish boss is a big fan of but McCarthy admitted that he needs to be playing, with next week’s League Cup game against Sunderland likely to see him feature.
“Jeff needs to get game time into his legs so it was great he played in the game on Wednesday.
“I have no doubts about Jeff’s ability or his fitness, he has covered so much ground for us in this European Championship already as the stats prove, but like all our players, he needs to play.
“He might feature against Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday and Jeff should be involved in the League Cup game at home to Sunderland next Wednesday night which we will have scouted. I might just delay naming the final squad until after those League Cup games on Tuesday and Wednesday night to see how our players get on.”
Hendrick’s midfield partner Conor Hourihane was also dropped for Aston Villa’s game last weekend with Preston’s Alan Browne only starting one Championship game this season and Glenn Whelan yet to feature for new club Hearts.
McCarthy expressed his concern over players struggling for game time and reiterated that he may wait until after the League Cup fixtures before announcing the final 23 man squad.
“Our main concern at the moment is still about players getting games but Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood are playing well, the four Sheffield United players are all starting as is Scott Hogan while Robbie Brady is still recovering from his rib injury.
“I’ll probably see where we are after the League Cup games next week before making a final decision on the squad for Switzerland and after that, we can always add players from the provisional squad for the Bulgaria game.”
There was still some positives however for McCarthy, with the performances of his other midfield options, Jack Byrne, Josh Cullen and Harry Arter catching the Irish manager’s eye.
“Josh was brilliant for Charlton,” added McCarthy. “He has really taken to the Championship since he went back to Charlton on loan from West Ham and he was busy throughout Wednesday night’s game, playing in their diamond and getting forward at every opportunity. I was really impressed with him.
“Harry was really good against Millwall and I am going to have a look at him myself on Saturday when Fulham are at home to Forest while Jack’s two goals at Waterford on Monday were very special.”