Monday 21 October 2019

'I'd be bonkers to leave out outstanding Duffy' - McCarthy

 

The Derryman was told not to train by McCarthy on Thursday due to medical advice received from Brighton, but he participated in the pre-match training session at the Dinamo Arena. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
The Derryman was told not to train by McCarthy on Thursday due to medical advice received from Brighton, but he participated in the pre-match training session at the Dinamo Arena. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Mick McCarthy believes it would be a risk to leave Shane Duffy out of this afternoon's crunch qualifier in Tbilisi because of the service he offers his Irish side. Duffy has fought back from a calf problem to defy the initial verdict that the Euro 2020 double header would come too soon.

The Derryman was told not to train by McCarthy on Thursday due to medical advice received from Brighton, but he participated in the pre-match training session at the Dinamo Arena.

McCarthy is unable to say for certain that the 27-year-old is 100pc fit. However, he feels he is fit enough to make a contribution that will enhance Ireland's prospects.

He asserted it would be daft to bench his main centre-half, with Richard Keogh's absence already necessitating a change in that department.

"It would be kind of ridiculous of me, the way he's played, the way he's performed, if he's fit for him not to be in my team, wouldn't it," said McCarthy. "If you're looking for one starter, then Shane Duffy. He's just been outstanding. I'd be bonkers to leave him out."

McCarthy must make a change at left-full, with Enda Stevens suspended.

Matt Doherty is in pole position to deputise, but Blackburn's Derrick Williams has also been given a positive mention in dispatches. James McClean has shaken off a back issue and that should mean that Aaron Connolly is kept in reserve from the outset.

Luton's James Collins is a strong contender to step in for David McGoldrick, with the manager paying tribute to the mental fortitude of the 28-year-old. He impressed off the bench to score on his debut against Bulgaria last month. "To get in the squad now shows a huge amount of dedication, hard work and mental strength," he said. "If I decide to pick him, I've no worries about him."

McCarthy did reference heat as a possible factor in the game, with temperatures likely to be around 20 degrees for kick-off.

Yet he will urge his players to take the same energetic approach that was a feature of March's victory against the same opponents at the Aviva Stadium.

It drew bizarre praise from Georgian manager Vladimir Weiss, who likened Ireland's approach to that of Riverdance star Michael Flatley.

"Ireland play football, if I can say, like Michael Flatley dances," said Weiss, with a nod to their 'phenomenal' energy levels.

That praise was repeated to McCarthy, who embraced it as a positive thing once it was explained.

"I think when someone describes you as someone who is as brilliant as Michael Flatley, such a wonderful performer and dancer, and a good guy, actually, I will take that as a huge compliment of my team," said the 60-year-old, in a slightly curious tangent.

"If anybody is as good at his sport, his discipline, his whatever, he is excellent at it. So I will take that as a huge compliment."

The headline show in Group D actually takes place tonight, with Switzerland taking on Denmark in Copenhagen.

McCarthy stressed there is no point speaking about a preferred outcome in that match when Ireland have a stiff job ahead of them beforehand.

"The only result and performance we can influence is this one here," he said. "It will work itself out."

If Ireland take three points today and Denmark fail to beat Switzerland, they are guaranteed to head into next month's concluding group game in Dublin ahead of the Danes, regardless of what happens against Switzerland in Geneva on Tuesday.

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