Mick sees a touch of Giles in Cullen

Josh Cullen

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Mick McCarthy didn't bite when he was asked this week if current Ireland U21 prospect Aaron Connolly reminded him of Damien Duff, snapping back: "No. I'm not giving him that label".

But McCarthy did see something in one of his current charges, a new recruit, which hinted at a resemblance to one-time greats. He sang the praises of midfielder Josh Cullen, who made his senior debut in Tuesday's friendly win over Bulgaria, and was reminded that Cullen wasn't the tallest of players, so his size could be an issue.

"Neither was Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles," McCarthy responded. "I haven't got reservations, because he's technically very good, and a tough little sod. He puts his foot in and stands his ground. You wouldn't think he's a little fella that gets knocked around. He handles the ball particularly well.

"He's got good legs and gets around the pitch. He's not particularly good at marking at corners and free-kicks but sometimes you've got to put up with that to get the bigger ones in different areas."

Cullen was one of five debutants on the night and while James Collins delivered a goal, Cullen, on loan from West Ham to Charlton, also impressed.

"I've seen him play, he was excellent for Charlton last year, and has been excellent this year when I've seen him. He impressed in training in Portugal. He plays week in, week out and he's got great fitness levels," added McCarthy.