Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has been keeping tabs on a host of his players as the English divisions approach the extremely busy Christmas period.
In the Premier League, Aaron Connolly has returned to full fitness and is impressing at Brighton, while Southampton’s Shane Long and Burnley’s Robbie Brady have been finding more regular game time as of late.
In the Championship, the likes of Preston’s Sean Maguire and Luton’s James Collins are having solid seasons, while recent injuries have disrupted the campaigns of Charlton’s Josh Cullen and Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph.
One player who will no doubt be crucial to his side’s hectic festive schedule is QPR’s Ryan Manning, who has featured in every minute of every Championship game for Mark Warburton’s side this season.
Manning and QPR had begun the season well but Warburton’s side haven’t won a game in their last seven and currently sit 16th in the table.
Despite their drop in form, it has been a strong campaign overall for Manning on a personal level and his early performances were rewarded with a spot in the Irish provisional squad ahead of last month’s games against New Zealand and Denmark.
McCarthy had outlined that the friendly against New Zealand, in which he played an experimental starting XI of sorts, could be the perfect opportunity to give Manning his Irish debut but instead the 23-year-old found himself on the standby squad instead.
Speaking to FAI TV on Friday, the Irish manager explained that the position Manning is operating in at club level makes it difficult to find a spot for him in the current way The Boys in Green play.
“I’ve been to see him two or three times now this season. He’s playing as a wing-back. Yes I played with wing-backs once but the reality is I don’t play it on a regular basis.
“He’s actually a midfield player that’s playing there and he does a good job for them. I’ll just continue to monitor him but he’s not a left-winger and he’s not a left-back. He’s sort of in between.
“The reality is he’s a left sided central midfield player. He’s done well any time I’ve watched him, puts good free-kicks in, corner-kicks but we’ve got our own free-kick and corner-kick deliveries in Conor Hourihane and having watched him the other night he was brilliant.”
As Manning awaits his chance, one player who did make his senior debut in the friendly win over New Zealand was 17-year-old Tottenham striker Troy Parrott.
Parrott started and despite not finding the net, looked sharp on his senior debut as he battled the experienced Winston Reid at the heart of the New Zealand defence.
The 17-year-old was included in the squad for the draw with Denmark but did not feature meaning that he was fit enough to link up with and score for the U21s in their 4-1 win over Sweden the very next day.
McCarthy took the time to praise the Spurs striker’s attitude outlining that he was “desperate” to feature for Stephen Kenny’s side despite it being so soon after his involvement in the senior squad.
“His attitude towards it as well, he was desperate to go and play with the U21s,” said McCarthy.
“It wasn’t one of a lad who has come into the senior team and suddenly sees himself as a senior player and didn’t want to take, what people might see as a downward step. He embraced it and wanted to go and play and of course he did and he scored and they had a great result.”