'It has turned out to be a massive occasion' - McCarthy compares Denmark qualifier to legendary Holland clash
Mick McCarthy has compared Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark next month to his finest days as Irish manager first time around, beating Holland in 2001 and hanging on to get to the World Cup two months later in a fevered atmosphere away to Iran in Tehran.
"Look, it has turned out to be a massive occasion," said McCarthy as he named a provisional squad of 39 for the tie, and the friendly against New Zealand four days prior to it.
"It's Holland here, it's Iran away, it's a huge game, one to get excited about. We'll have to play well, we played well in Copenhagen, we'll have to play better again to beat them in Dublin.
"I'm excited now, I might get nervous closer to the game. I hope I do, if I don't get nervous coming up to a big match like this then I shouldn't be doing this job."
McCarthy insists that goalkeeper Darren Randolph will be fit to play against the Danes despite being injured right now.
"Darren will be ok. I'm not interested in playing him in the New Zealand match so he's got an extra four days to be ready for Denmark. He says he will be fine and I've got to trust him."
McCarthy has also shown trust in youth, with the likes of Aaron Connolly and Troy Parrott now in the squad. Asked if they could learn from each other, the manager demurred. "I don't think you can follow anyone else, you are in your own shoes when you turn up. You've earned it!"
But he is happy to see younger players forcing their way into his thoughts. "Bringing lads in does spark a bit of youthful enthusiasm and the older lads rise to it, they have been there themselves, they've done it, they see lads coming in and look after them."
One player who is going to get a chance to force his way back into the Irish team is centre-half Ciaran Clark, now starting regularly for Newcastle United. McCarthy is going to watch him play at West Ham on Saturday when the Magpies come visiting.