Monday 26 August 2019

'He will exactly suit what Roy Hodgson wants' - Stephen Kelly says Palace move ideal for James and Mick McCarthy

It’s no coincidence that Ireland’s midfield has vastly under-performed during James McCarthy’s absence. Photo: Sportsfile
It’s no coincidence that Ireland’s midfield has vastly under-performed during James McCarthy’s absence. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

James McCarthy's stalled international career could be revived by his move to Crystal Palace, according to his former Ireland team-mate Stephen Kelly.

Injuries have blighted the player's progress in recent times; indeed, ex-Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane was engaged in a long-running feud with McCarthy's former club Everton when the midfielder picked up a hamstring issue while with Ireland two years ago.

Subsequently, a broken leg restricted him to just one appearance for the Merseysiders last season.

And, although he will not be guaranteed a starting berth in Roy Hodgson's side for their opening-day fixture tomorrow - ironically they host Everton - Kelly, who spent five successful years at Fulham under the former English boss, is confident the move can be a success.

"The move was so needed for him as getting playing time is so important," says former Spurs star Kelly.


"I had the pleasure of working with Roy (Hodgson) and he's very good. The type of player James is, he will exactly suit what Roy wants.

"He loves a box-to-box midfielder who can cover the ground and is comfortable on the ball. He will give him the confidence he needs to feel good about himself again because he's been out a long time with injuries and the lack of game time.

"He needs to play regular football and you hope that he can break into that Palace team and stay there for a long time, as it will benefit Ireland.

"James can come into that role Glenn Whelan plays because Glenn can't go on forever. He's still without a club at the moment and the internationals are coming quickly.

"If James plays the first few games of the season he could be in contention for the September internationals."

It's no coincidence that Ireland's midfield has vastly under-performed during McCarthy's absence from the engine room and former manager Brian Kerr is also anxious for the Glasgow-born player to re-boot his career.

"The big hope after the Euros was that Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady would become dominant," he says, "but the disappointment I felt was about those not going on to the next level.

"Glenn Whelan was getting older and less trusted, he was becoming a little bit more peripheral.

"We kind of expected that McCarthy was going to be there for years and years in the middle and it hasn't been the case. But I think there's a chance now.

"Mick McCarthy will look at what they've done so far and he'll be reluctant to change too much, but he'll also know that he's been missing a few players and that he's one that can improve it, I've no doubt about that.

"Especially in a team that I feel now has more structure about it, more clarity about the individual roles and about the style, and a team that has had their confidence restored.

"Because there's no talk that we haven't got very good players. Mick is not saying things like that.

"He's saying, 'we've got good players and a good squad.' So there's more confidence and I think James will flower in that.

"He looks to me like a fella who's kind of shy and inhibited in a way and likes a manager to say, 'go on, you're the main man, I'll play you'.

"So I'd be hopeful. But the key thing is that he starts getting games on a regular basis."

Stephen Kelly and Brian Kerr were speaking as Off The Ball confirmed that Newstalk will once again be home to the Premier League for the next three seasons.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport