Mick McCarthy has said that he was impressed by Stephen Kenny’s Irish Under-21s side in their win over Armenia. However, he explained that he is unlikely to call any of them up for the three remaining Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Kenny’s men looked sharp in Tallaght Stadium on Friday night as Tottenham striker Troy Parrott’s goal helped them comfortably see off Armenia to make it two wins from two in their qualifying campaign.
McCarthy was in attendance at the game and watched as the likes of Brighton forward Aaron Connolly and Millwall midfielder Jayson Molumby, along with the majority of the starting XI, put in strong performances.
Speaking as his side prepare for Tuesday night’s friendly against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium, McCarthy highlighted Connolly and Molumby as well as centre-half pairing of Conor Masterson and Dara O’Shea as players who caught his eye for the Under-21s.
“I was extremely impressed, certainly by Connolly – I thought he was the pick of the bunch – Molumby as well. Having a soft spot for centre-backs, I liked both of them. They were both competitive and both can play, both can pass the ball.
“But certainly Connolly, he was the one that caught the eye. Connolly and Molumby, I thought, were excellent.”
Given the quality in Kenny’s squad, there have been calls for McCarthy to call-up some of the players into the senior squad and give them what many feel would be a deserved chance in the team.
The Under-21s face a difficult qualifier against Sweden on Tuesday – just hours before the senior team’s game – and McCarthy confirmed that he would have included a number of their players in his squad had they not been faced with a competitive game.
The Irish manager explained that the likes of Molumby, Connolly and Parrott playing for the Under-21s in a qualifier will be far more beneficial to him than a friendly against Bulgaria.
“We might qualify for the Euros and they might all be travelling or be playing here. I’m not sure that if I play them in a friendly against Bulgaria that it’ll tell me they can compete in a game against Georgia away or Switzerland away or Denmark at home.
“I can still see them, it’s a competitive game against Sweden and I’m sure I’ll know more from that than I will from a friendly.”
The young prospects, however, may give McCarthy a selection headache if they continue to get chances at club level, with Aaron Connolly, Adam Idah, Troy Parrott, Gavin Kilkenny and Jayson Molumby, to name but a few, all in and around the first team at their respective clubs.
The Irish boss’ mantra for picking players during this campaign has generally been that they must be playing at club level, but even if they are, McCarthy explains, he is unlikely to give them their debuts against the likes of Switzerland and Denmark ahead of more experienced senior players.
“I hope they get playing in their teams certainly,” he began.
“I hope they give me that dilemma when they are playing. But I keep going back to that dilemma, I’m not sure Georgia away or Switzerland away or Denmark at home are games for debutants.
“It’s always the case where if I was to play them and they didn’t play well that question would be asked, so I kind of trust myself and Terry Connor and Robbie, they know who the best players are and who should be playing but I’d like to have the dilemma, of course I would if they were playing in Champions League games or Premier League games.”