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Parrott one of many Irish players plotting FA Cup third round storylines

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Troy Parrott of Tottenham Hotspur

Troy Parrott of Tottenham Hotspur

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Troy Parrott of Tottenham Hotspur

James McCarthy is the only Irish player to have played in a winning FA Cup side over the past 12 years but he'll savour a different type of joy to that experienced for Wigan in 2013 if he features in the competition tomorrow.

The midfielder is one of several Irishmen with something to prove in this weekend's third round ties.

From novices to stalwarts, the age-old institution that is the FA Cup presents a showcase they'd struggle to attain on league duty.

Here, we select five of the 32 fixtures with a particular Irish interest for certain individuals.

TODAY

Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur (7.45pm)

For a 16-year-old, Troy Parrott attracted an inordinate amount of attention during 2018. That wasn't just for his performances and goals leading Ireland's U-17s to within a penalty save of the Euro semi-finals but his showing for Tottenham's U-23 team since moving in the summer from Dublin to train in a full-time set-up.

In-demand manager Mauricio Pochettino hasn't dampened the hype, promoting the striker to his first-team squad for the trip to Leicester City last month and declaring his readiness for frontline service.

A further signal of progress came at the weekend when he was the 19th man in the squad for the game against Wolves. With Poch resting many of his title-chasing attackers, it was hoped a place on the bench at Prenton Park would be his but we're going to have to wait til another day for the youngster's debut.

TOMORROW

Manchester United v Reading (12.30)

We're probably a couple of months off knowing for sure if Londoner Liam Kelly is committed to the Irish cause, yet he'll need to establish himself under his latest Reading manager to be wanted by either country.

The playmaker hasn't featured since November but at least got on the bench for the first game under the Jose Gomes reign on Saturday. A reshuffled side for the cup tie should afford Kelly (23) his chance and what better place to enhance your international credentials than the Theatre of Dreams.

Sheffield Wednesday v Luton Town (12.30)

Fifty-goals in two-and-a-half seasons for James Collins is not to be sniffed at, even if they've come in the lower leagues, and the striker will relish testing himself against a Championship side.

His Luton Town are well on course for a second successive promotion as they sit second in League One ahead of a meeting with third-placed Sunderland next weekend. Ex-Aston Villa trainee Collins has left his controversial past behind to regain some stability in his life. At 28, he's got the raw material to become a senior Ireland international under Mick McCarthy.

Everton v Lincoln City (3.0)

Lincoln City's visit to Goodison Park on a gloomy January afternoon is a far cry from his Wembley heroics five-and-a-half years ago but it means a lot for James McCarthy.

Marco Silva has been awaiting the right opportunity to reintroduce his midfielder following 11 months on the sidelines through injury and this will be it.

The Glaswegian may end up leaving this month, likely on loan, but his namesake in the Ireland hotseat won't mind so long as he regains his match fitness heading into the opening Euro qualifiers in March.

SUNDAY

Manchester City v Rotherham United (2.0)

Since Richie Towell made his English football debut in the FA Cup two years ago, he's struggled to make an impact at Brighton.

Rotherham United has been his haven and, notwithstanding his red card last weekend, this season's loan move has allowed him show he can cut it at Championship level.

Facing the Premier League champions in their back yard is an altogether taller order. Still, he'll approach the task with the right attitude, aware his tenacious tackling and darts from deep can affect games regardless of the opposition.

Irish Independent