Ireland manager Mick McCarthy outlined that he wasn’t surprised to hear the news that midfielder Glenn Whelan had been released by Aston Villa ahead of the start of the new campaign.
Whelan, who will likely be involved in Ireland’s Euro 2020 clash with Denmark on Friday, was one of eight players released by the club following their promotion back to the Premier League.
The 35-year old was one of Villa’s stand out performers throughout the campaign which saw them win ten games in a row at the tail end of the season to help them clinch a spot in the playoffs, before a Wembley victory over Derby County.
Many had felt that Whelan’s performances would be rewarded with a new contract but speaking on Monday, McCarthy explained that he wasn’t surprised by Villa’s decision to let the midfielder go.
“No (surprise) what so ever. None at all. Neither was he, the older we get the savvier we get and we start to know what’s going on. No one had spoke to him about staying on, he’s 35.
“I know he had a chat with Dean (Smith), he wouldn’t have been on the pitch. Would he want to be on the bench at 35? I wouldn’t think so. He doesn’t deserve to be, he deserves to be playing in somebody’s team.
“In the two days he’s been here he’s been excellent, absolutely brilliant.
“He’s in great shape, we know he does a bit extra. He’ll go and play somewhere and he’ll want to play because he’ll want to prolong his international career, similar to how he played against Georgia.”
McCarthy has been a huge admirer of Whelan since he took over the Irish helm, bringing him back from international retirement in March.
Whelan started the win against Georgia and was one of Ireland’s standout players alongside former Villa teammate Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick in the centre of the park.
After Ireland’s return from Portuguese training camp last week, McCarthy spoke highly of Whelan giving his insight into why he feels the 35-year old has been able to operate at such a high level.
“When I came they told me he’d retired, obviously, he hadn’t and he told me he had been retired. He was brilliant, it was an outstanding performance against Georgia and he’s been really good this season.
“Look if he keeps playing like that (he’ll keep playing). I have to say, when he trained with us, we were having a pretty good session and then we were just stretching off and he said, ‘I actually want to do a bit more’ and he went and put a bit more work in himself. I thought ‘yeah, that’s why you’ve played until 35, you train hard, look after yourself.’
“He’s in great shape so if he keeps playing like that, he can play as long as he wants.”