Confirmed: Amond and Collins get nod in Mick McCarthy's first Ireland squad as Glenn Whelan makes return
Mick McCarthy has named a 38-man provisional squad ahead of Ireland's Euro 2020 opener against Gibraltar later this month.
Carlow man Padraig Amond and Luton Town striker James Collins are both included as reported in this morning's Irish Independent.
BREAKING: Mick McCarthy has named his provisional squad for the upcoming @UEFAEURO European Qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia!— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 7, 2019
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Glenn Whelan makes a surprise return. Whelan had a 'retirement' appearance against Northern Ireland last year, but never actually stated that he was finished with international football. He has been playing regularly with Aston Villa of late and the manager clearly believes the veteran has something to offer.
"I rang him and asked him if he had retired and he said 'no'," said McCarthy. "Glenn could do a specific role as a sitter if needed."
Amond caught the eye playing for Newport County during their recent good FA Cup run. At 30 he would be one of Ireland's oldest ever debutants if he plays in either match.
Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is in the group, even though he is eligible for the Under-21s, who have matches at the same time as the senior internationals.
McCarthy will cut the squad down to 22 or 23 before they begin training on Monday, March 18. "We've got to go and play in Gibraltar in unusual circumstances, there's the Rock of Gibralar at one end and the airport at the other, but it is their home pitch, it's Astroturf and we will train on the Astroturf pitch at Abbotstown before we go."
Amond - scorer of 21 goals in all competitions this season, including five in the Exiles' memorable FA Cup run - is one of three players in the 38-man provisional squad who have been handed their first senior call-up for the European Championship qualifying matches against Gibraltar and Georgia.
The other two are Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers and Luton forward Collins.
Keiren Westwood, Stephen Ward, Aiden McGeady, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan and David McGoldrick have all earned recalls.
Injury has ruled out Ciaran Clark, Callum Robinson, Jonathan Walters and Michael Obafemi, while West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who has played three times for the Republic, has now switched allegiance to England.
The Republic, who appointed McCarthy as successor to Martin O'Neill in November, face Gibraltar away on March 23 and Georgia at home three days later. The squad will be finalised on March 17.
Republic of Ireland Provisional Squad
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Kieran O'Hara (Macclesfield Town*), Mark Travers (Bournemouth)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Richard Keogh (Derby County), John Egan (Sheffield United), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Kevin Long (Burnley), Jimmy Dunne (Sunderland*), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen Ward (Burnley)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), Alan Judge (Ipswich Town), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Harry Arter (Cardiff City*), Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa), David Meyler (Coventry City*), Shaun Williams (Millwall), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City), Daryl Horgan (Hibernian)
Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Sean Maguire (Preston North End), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Scott Hogan (Sheffield United*), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall), David McGoldrick (Sheffield United), James Collins (Luton Town), Padraig Amond (Newport County)
* Indicates player on loan.