'I want to play for Ireland, that's what I want to do' - Mick McCarthy reveals reassuring conversation with Luca Connell
Luca Connell has assured Mick McCarthy that he sees his long-term future with Ireland.
The highly-rated teenager has been ruled out of next week's crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers with Denmark and Gibraltar due to a thigh problem.
The Liverpool-born starlet had played his way into McCarthy's final squad after impressing on a training camp in Portugal.
Connell (18) is expected to leave Bolton this summer with a host of Premier League clubs on his trail and reports of English FA interest in the midfielder had raised fears around his intentions after the loss of Jack Grealish and Declan Rice.
However, Ireland boss McCarthy said yesterday that he had a positive chat with Connell about his position.
"I asked him, 'If I put you on for three minutes, in one of the games, somewhere down the line, would you be p***** off with me or do you want to play for Ireland?" said the Ireland boss. "And he said, 'I want to play for Ireland, that's what I want to do'.
"It's a kind of duty of care as well, he has just turned 18. At the moment he is full of hype and all that and (he would say) 'I will play' but he gets two minutes and that's him done, and then he gets another opportunity he might have preferred.
"But he actually told me that's what he wants to do. It's funny, because of the set of circumstances that have happened we question everyone now. He wants to play for Ireland."
It's understood that Connell will travel with Tom Mohan's Ireland U-19 squad to the finals in Armenia later this summer. Injury has ruled him out of today's training match with Stephen Kenny's U-21s.
McCarthy is short on midfield options for that match with Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane still resting after their play-off exploits and Jeff Hendrick attending his brother's wedding. He has strongly indicated that he will stick with that midfield three for next Friday's Euro 2020 game in Denmark.
Josh Cullen will play, and the West Ham player has jumped up in the manager's estimation. He helped Charlton to promotion from League One after starring in their play-off final win over Sunderland.