Teenage star McCarthy can fill Ireland's boots
Published 23/02/2010 | 05:00
GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI believes James McCarthy has the ability to fill the void left by voluntary exile Stephen Ireland and is ready to change his rigid system if the 19-year-old proves he is ready.
The highly rated Scottish-born midfielder, who has broken through to the first team at Wigan after his summer move from Hamilton, is one of three new caps in the squad named by Trapattoni for next Tuesday's friendly with Brazil.
Joining him in the party are Portsmouth defender Marc Wilson and Manchester City left-full Greg Cunningham, who receives a shock call-up after just one FA Cup appearance for Roberto Mancini, who recommended the Galway man to Trapattoni.
Trapattoni will speak again to Mancini, in time, about Ireland's international stance but he reckons that McCarthy has the potential to compensate for the technical ability in midfield that is lacking in the absence of the Cobh native.
"He's like Stephen Ireland. His position is Steve Ireland. He has a good brain and he plays quickly," said Trapattoni. "He can play right, he can play left and I think he can play behind the striker as well."
The Ireland manager disputes the suggestion that he is unwilling to change the 4-4-2 formation with two holding midfielders that he deployed in the abortive attempt to make the World Cup in South Africa. Instead, he counters that he didn't have the quality of individual to change it, and hopes McCarthy can be that man.
"It's not the system you set up. It's the players. I have used many different formations in my career but I can't put them in practice unless I have the players. At the moment, no, I don't have the players to change the system but maybe now McCarthy when he comes, and he can get the experience."
Trapattoni's midfield options are set to be further bolstered when the paperwork allowing Spurs' former England U-21 international Jamie O'Hara to convert to the Irish cause is completed.
O'Hara, on-loan at Portsmouth, was not named by Trapattoni, but he said that the arrival of a left-footed midfield player under the new FIFA eligibility rules was imminent and it's understood that the 23-year-old is that man.
In the long term, the Italian will also have the services of promising Everton central defender Shane Duffy. The Derry-born centre-half looked to have thrown in his lot with Northern Ireland after being called up to their senior squad for a trip to Italy last June and then representing them at U-19 and U-21 level.
However, Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington has confirmed that the 18-year-old, whose father is from Donegal, refused the offer of a place in their squad for next week's friendly in Albania because he now wishes to play for the Republic.