'He's coming in for the week - unless he rips it up' - Mick McCarthy issues challenge to new call-up Connell
MICK McCarthy says he's keen to see teenage prospect Luca Connell in the flesh for the first time this week and challenged the Bolton prospect to play his way into the Ireland senior panel on a permanent basis.
Connell (18) was included in the Irish squad, which starts a week-long training camp in Portugal tomorrow, part of the build-up to next month's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar.
Already part of the Irish youth set-up as he's eligible through a Dublin-born grandmother, the midfielder is only training with the squad at the moment and may drop out of the panel once players like Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane are available after playoff duties with their clubs.
Training tomorrow will be McCarthy's first time to see Connell up close and he's excited by the prospect.
"Luca's had a good season playing in the Championship, played 15 games and there's a lot of interest in him," McCarthy said in Portugal today.
"Playing in a team that's been relegated, and doing well and being noticed, he has done really well. I have not seen him, I have seen bits on the TV and had reports on him. I know he is quite fancied by a few people and I wanted to have a look at him.
"He knows he is coming in for the week in Portugal, unless he rips it up [in training] and is the top man every day, who knows."
McCarthy will recall Whelan, Hourihane and Richard Keogh when the Championship playoff is finished, Aston Villa and Derby County in the final on Monday, and the Ireland boss says the challenge is for those who are in Portugal to make an impression.
"I have three players in the playoff final so they are all here for a reason, they are all here to try and play.
"But the team that played against Georgia, and played so well, I won't be making loads of changes after that."