Tuesday 15 October 2019

'I'm not going to stick him on the pitch for a minute just to cap him' - Mick McCarthy on Luca Connell


Luca Connell. Photo: Sportsfile
Luca Connell. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Mick McCarthy has no intention of sticking talented teenager Luca Connell on the pitch for a minute to secure his Irish future.

The Bolton player is in Portugal with McCarthy's squad for their training camp building up to the June qualifiers with Denmark and Gibraltar.

However, Liverpool-born Connell (18) - a reported target for England - will not be staying around for those games. McCarthy said that he might change his mind if Connell "rips it up" but denied there is any plan to secure Connell's services for the longer term.

His predecessor Martin O'Neill was criticised for not bringing Declan Rice into a competitive squad while he was climbing the ranks.

"I'm not going to stick him on the pitch for a minute just to cap him," said McCarthy, speaking after the team arrived at their base in Quinta do Lago.

Connell is being trailed by a number of clubs including Rangers after Bolton were relegated to League One.


McCarthy to combat cabin fever as long Denmark build-up begins

The sun is shining in Portugal, a contrast from the storm clouds that have hung over the FAI since March.

Mick McCarthy spoke with the "personable" Noel Mooney earlier this week and has been in contact with Rea Walshe and Donal Conway intermittently without involving himself in the ongoing governance crisis.

Managing the squad is his priority and the scenic surrounds of The Campus in Quinta do Lago will be their training base until next Tuesday in the long run-up to the crunch clash with Denmark in Copenhagen on June 7.

The 17-day build-up does present the risk of cabin fever setting in, yet McCarthy has said the right balance between work and play will be struck to ensure there are no such difficulties. There's golf on the agenda this Friday with other social activities and rest days on the cards too.

McCarthy has plenty of experience of training camps, of course, and he will also take on board the advice of Robbie Keane who can inform him of what worked in more recent years.

Giovanni Trapattoni's overly intense preparations for Euro 2012 spring to mind as an example of where getting the balance wrong can have a negative impact.

"I know full well if you have them trapped in the hotel, never going out and never doing anything, that's going to cause a problem because it would have caused me a problem," said McCarthy, who was reluctant to discuss previous regimes.

"I have a really great ally in Robbie who has been involved in all of the camps and experienced. He's quite happy to share that and chirp up and tell me.

"You can't do that all of the time. We'll be training twice on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday off and then back at it on Saturday. It will be mixed up. It will be good fun I think."

Lessons will be learned from the exercise. McCarthy's first camp in March involved immediate preparation for two competitive matches, whereas this environment provides the opportunity to find out more about the character of the players.

There will be some work on shape and tactics too, yet he dropped a strong hint that the template for March's win over Georgia may well be reproduced in Copenhagen.

Richard Keogh, Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane started that match but are absent this week due to their involvement in Monday's play-off final.

"You would understand if I said that Conor, Glenn and Richard come in, then they will be playing having played the way they did against Georgia," said McCarthy,

"So I cannot prepare without them in terms of free-kicks, corners, restarts, marking - all of that."

The manager encountered no problems when it came to calling players up after a long season. He did confirm that Harry Arter was cut from his squad due to injury, while promising teenager Luca Connell is due to depart after this training week.


McCarthy was very keen to get back to work himself, and he did take time yesterday to express sympathy for his old team-mate Chris Hughton after his abrupt exit from Brighton.

"He's done a fabulous job getting them promoted and I think he's done a fabulous job keeping them there," he sighed. "I don't know if Chris does all the recruitment there but they seem to think that's not worked for them.

"He's done a great job. To keep them in that league is really tough, especially if you're in that bottom half all of the time. Maybe they just thought it was time for a change, the same as me at Ipswich. They thought it was time for a change, that went well."

The deadpan delivery didn't break the stride of his sentence. "Chris will recover from the tough season and he'll go again if he gets a chance," he continued. "Somebody will be delighted to have him."

Right now, McCarthy is delighted to be here.

Irish Independent

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