'McCarthy's chance to become famous'
WHEN James McCarthy reported for Ireland duty on Saturday ahead of the flight to America for tomorrow's friendly with Spain, Giovanni Trapattoni pulled him to one side.
While a number of established names were allowed to miss this trip to America, Trapattoni was insistent that the Wigan man made the journey and he wanted to explain his reasoning to the highly-regarded central midfielder.
"I said to James that you have the opportunity to play against this great side, the fantastic Spanish players, and this can be your chance to become famous. I think that some of our players can play for the great teams, and this is a chance to show that."
McCarthy is expected to move on from Wigan this summer and Trapattoni, who expressed reservations about the 22-year-old in March, now feels that he can push on and join an elite club.
"He must believe in himself because he has good quality, good vision, and shooting also, but he should be more enterprising."
McCarthy is not the only player who Trapattoni wants to benefit from this experience in terms of putting themselves in the shop window. Jeff Hendrick, the 21-year-old Derby man, is likely to partner McCarthy in the heart of the Irish midfield.
The manager is a big fan of Hendrick and is mystified that no Premier League club has made a serious move for his services.
Trapattoni also thinks that Conor Sammon, who had a stint with Wigan, could operate in the top flight too, and made veiled references to his views on the English transfer market, suggesting that certain agents have more success at getting their clients places than others.
McCarthy and Hendrick will be told to go and speak to their representatives about their next move. "I said to them 'go and talk to your agent and get working' because it's important," continued the 74-year-old.
Certainly, a positive display against a strong Spanish side would be a serious statement, considering that Vicente del Bosque will field the majority of his World and European champions as they are en route to the Confederations Cup in Brazil.
They dismantled Trapattoni's Ireland 4-0 on the way to Euro 2012 glory a year ago this week, and the Spanish will encounter a changed side this time around.
Captain Robbie Keane, Sean St Ledger and Simon Cox are the only three starters from the last Spanish match who are here in America, while James McClean, who came off the bench on that occasion, should figure from the outset.
Still, Trapattoni feels that a fresh group have shown enough over the past fortnight to give a better account of themselves. "We can grow in this game, in this situation," he said. "In the last three games, we have shown a good balance. We got a good result against England and while England are not like Spain because Spain is more creative and technical, I think we can do well. I don't know if we can win, but we won't be humiliated."
Seamus Coleman watched the miserable Euros defeat in a pub in Killybegs with his friends after missing the cut. Since then, he has emerged to become first-choice right-back and an invaluable member of the panel.
"Obviously I felt I should have been there," he said. "There'd be something wrong with you if you didn't think you should have been there.
"Every player wants to be. But the manager had players he had to pick and I wasn't playing in the position I'm playing in now, at full-back, which I think went against me a bit. But it's made me stronger and I'm looking forward to playing many more times for Ireland."
Despite coming through a hectic campaign at Everton, Coleman had no hesitation about adding this jaunt to the end of it.
"It's a game I've been looking forward to since it was announced," he enthused.
"The lads who played against them last summer always talk about how good they were. At the end of your career, you want to say you've played against the very best players."
It promises to be an informative exercise. Trapattoni will confirm his team this evening (7.0 Irish time) at a press conference at their base in New Jersey.