Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy ran the rule over Under-21 midfielder Jason Knight on Friday as he continues to prepare for the upcoming Euro 2020 playoff against Slovakia.
McCarthy watched the talented 19-year-old midfielder in Derby County’s 1-1 draw with Fulham last weekend while also keeping an eye on Harry Arter, who could be in contention for an international recall.
The Irish manager’s midfield options may also be boosted by James McCarthy’s return to form at Crystal Palace with the 28-year-old finally getting consistent Premier League minutes once again.
“Jason is doing well at Derby and he has really made the first-team breakthrough this season which is great for us,” McCarthy told FAI.tv.
“James did exactly what I knew he would do for Palace. He does the simple things well, sits in front of the back four and controls things for them.
“Like Shane (Long) at Southampton, he is benefitting from regular first team football.”
This past weekend was a strong one for Irish performers, with the likes of Callum Robinson, Alan Browne, Scott Hogan and Enda Stevens all finding the net for their respective clubs.
Stevens’ goal, in particular, a rasping volley from just inside the area, caught the eye of McCarthy who also spoke on the left-back’s injury after he was replaced at half-time on Saturday.
“It was a hell of a shot from Enda,” said McCarthy . “I’ve seen it described as a screamer on one report and that’s exactly what it was. Enda has been on top form for Sheffield United and for Ireland all season and it’s nice to see him amongst the goals now as well.
“We’ll take goals from anywhere in Bratislava at the end of March so the more Irish players scoring right now, the better as far as I’m concerned. As for his injury, he was taken off more as a precaution than anything else and Chris Wilder hopes to have Enda available for the Premier League game against Norwich on Saturday week.
“If he gets back in time for that one then he will have plenty of time for first-team action before we meet up in Dublin on March 24th.”
McCarthy was also full of praise for Hogan, whose equaliser for Birmingham City was his fourth goal in five games for the club since his arrival in January on loan.
Hogan was left out of the Irish squad for their last game against Denmark.
But McCarthy outlined that the striker has played his way back into contention, while also praising the likes of Robinson and Browne.
“Scott has really got himself back into the picture for Slovakia with his goals for Birmingham and his finish on Saturday was top class and timely while Terry was impressed with Callum’s all-round game against Bristol City as well as with his ‘lucky’ header for his second goal in as many games. Alan Browne used his head as well for his goal.
“We just need them all to keep playing and keep scoring going into March.”