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'I never gave up hope'

Mick's call to Irish Lion Shaun

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Millwall midfielder Shaun Williams

Millwall midfielder Shaun Williams

Millwall midfielder Shaun Williams

Shaun Williams says he's determined to extend his Indian summer as an international football for as long as possible.

And the Millwall man hopes that the Ireland manager's connections with his club can help him stay in the Ireland squad and help the side push on for Euro 2020.

Williams was one of the oldest debutants for Ireland in recent times when he won his first senior cap under Martin O'Neill last year at the age of 31.

He even had the honour of being Ireland's joint top scorer in 2018, netting one of only four goals scored by the Republic in the calendar year when he found the net in the Nations League defeat to Wales.

McCarthy names his next month squad for his first tests, qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia and he has a few options in midfield.

Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City) and Alan Browne (Preston) are both enjoying a good run of form while Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick are getting game time at Burnley, Brady available for the Clarets this weekend following injury.

Club duties are the focus for Williams, Millwall aiming to stay out of the relegation zone in the Championship while they are still involved in the FA Cup, drawn away to AFC Wimbledon in the next round.

McCarthy has already been in touch with former League of Ireland star Williams and the 32-year-old hopes he has a role to play.

"It was a brilliant year for me, and I have not closed the book just yet, I hope I have a few more caps in me," says Williams, reflecting on 2018 when he won three senior caps.

"It was phenomenal when I look back on it, I am very proud to have played for my country and I hope there are more to come.

"Mick has been in touch, he rang me a few weeks after he got appointed with Ireland, he just wanted to introduce himself and he said he would get down to the training ground to meet me as he doesn't live too far away from our training ground, and I know he has been to a couple of our games. I enjoyed chatting to Mick and I look forward to working with him.

McCarthy played for the Lions and was also manager there before he took up the Ireland job for the first time, in 1996, factors that could work in Williams' favour,

"The fact that Mick played for and managed Millwall can't do me any harm, he knows the club and knows what it's like here," Williams told The Herald, his club away to Swansea tomorrow, morale high at the New Den with just one loss in the last eight.

"But it's up to me to keep my form up and make sure I have done enough to get into the squad, maybe the team. It was always my dream to play for my country, I made that a reality last year and I hope I can continue now," he added.

"I never gave up hope, I never allowed myself to accept it wouldn't happen for me. And I was overwhelmed that I got the opportunity to do it."


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