Thursday 19 September 2019

Mick McCarthy insists Ireland door is not closed for Shane Long

Mick McCarthy during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Mick McCarthy during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Mick McCarthy says the door to international football has not been closed on Shane Long even though the veteran striker has not made it into his squad despite a fresh injury up front.

Long (32) was named in the provisional squad for the double header against Switzerland and Bulgaria but did not make the cut for the 25-strong travelling party, and even when Sean Maguire was forced to withdraw due to injury, McCarthy turned to Luton Town forward James Collins as a replacement instead of Long, who played in the Premier League as a sub for Southampton last weekend.

But McCarthy says he has selected players on the back of club form and Long will have to work his way back in on that basis.

"The chance to play for Ireland, and he has made many appearances, he is one of the highest goalscorers, is still very much there for him as it is for Robbie Brady, who has a rib injury and can't play," McCarthy said.

"I'd have thought that if anybody analyses the strikers in the squad that I picked, they have all been playing. David McGoldrick started in the Premier League, Robbo [Callum Robinson] scored, Sean Maguire was playing regularly and scoring, Scott Hogan started and was scoring. Shane just wasn't playing in any games so my logic is that players need to be playing."

While Long missed out, McCarthy said he's not as concerned about the lack of game time for Jeff Hendrick this season or the fact that Shane Duffy was dropped by Brighton last week as they played a new three-man defence, the Ireland boss boosted by the fact that Glenn Whelan, who was without a club a month ago, has since signed for Hearts and played twice in the SPL.

"Experience is key, I am loyal to people, to the ones who perform, you have a head start if you have been in the team," he said. 

McCarthy also said he had no plans to play for a draw but would accept a point at home to the Swiss on Thursday night.

"I would, yeah, bearing in mind the points we have already" he said when asked if he'd take a point. "They are a good side and we are not setting up to get a draw, we are going to try and win the game but if it turns out we end up with a point I'll be happy with not being beaten."

Meanwhile, James McClean says the tag of underdogs suits his Ireland side as they prepare to face Switzerland in the Euro 2020 qualifiers on Thursday.

The Swiss are 21 places above Mick McCarthy's side in the world rankings and will hope to put an average start to the qualifiers behind them with a performance and result in Dublin.

But McClean says Ireland's record of getting wins against the likes of Germany can spur them on again despite the gap between the competing sides in those rankings.

"It was nice to know we can get results against teams but when you play the so-called bigger sides you are not given much of a chance, that rises you up and gives you extra motivation to go out and show we are a good side, we are at home and we want to test ourselves," he says.

"It's what happens in football, in life, if someone tells you you can't do something you find that extra motivation to show that you can, naturally it raises you up a little but the more people write us off and don't give us a chance the better for us.

"Now there is a good atmosphere around the place, we want to win every game we play, that's the aim and we are at home, confidence comes from winning games and we have won three," added the Stoke City man.

"People can say two were against Gibraltar but we still won, we have to grasp this opportunity to get to another European Championships."

McClean and his club have had a difficult start to the season, Stoke bottom of the Championship table with one point from six games but McClean says the pressure on manager Nathan Jones is unfair.

"The players need to look at ourselves in the mirror and say there is a reason why Stoke have had so many managers in a short space of time. We have made horrendous mistakes in games and as players we need to step up to the plate, we need to look in the mirror, maybe we are the problem," he said.

Online Editors

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