Trap ready to fast-track McCarthy for Brazil clash
JAMES McCARTHY is in the frame for a first senior international call-up this morning when Giovanni Trapattoni names his squad for tomorrow week's friendly meeting with Brazil in London.
The Wigan midfielder, who started again in yesterday's Premier League meeting with Tottenham, was left out of Don Givens U-21 squad for their match with Armenia on March 3, thus indicating that a call-up was imminent for the talented 19-year-old.
McCarthy's international allegiance has been pointlessly debated in recent weeks, amid scurrilous suggestions in the Scottish media that the Glasgow-born player was willing to do a U-turn and declare for the country where he grew up.
However, there was never any chance that he was going to change his mind. Indeed, from the minute he represented Ireland at underage level under Sean McCaffrey, the loyal ex-Hamilton star was determined to stand by his decision to opt for the country he qualifies for through his grandfather from Donegal, having been overlooked by the Scots in his mid-teens.
The youngster's family adopted the stance that they would politely handle any approaches from Scotland, hence the suggestion that McCarthy might be willing to talk to manager Craig Levein.
Yet the Scottish authorities soon learned they were chasing a lost cause. New Wigan recruit Gary Caldwell, a Scottish international, tried to influence the situation, but admitted yesterday that he had gotten nowhere.
"Gary has had a word in my ear about it but I've made my choice," said McCarthy last week.
Trapattoni suggested in Warsaw a fortnight ago that the exciting prospect would be more likely to break through in the summer, yet it appears that he will be summoned to the fold ahead of schedule.
Overall, though, it's unlikely to be a radical squad selection from the 70-year-old, who said at that European Championship draw that he would largely rely on the group of players who suffered World Cup heartache against France for this Emirates Stadium encounter.
The one area where some form of experimentation is anticipated is at left-back, with the Irish management conscious of the need to find a long-term replacement for Kevin Kilbane.
Wolves' Stephen Ward, who has been converted to the role by Mick McCarthy after originally moving to England, from Bohemians, as a striker, has been recommended to Trapattoni and is the only Irish player in the Premier League regularly lining out in the problem area.
Preston's Eddie Nolan was Kilbane's understudy during the World Cup qualifying campaign, yet the Waterford man has failed to really push on at club level this season and has been sent on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
Trapattoni also name-checked Manchester City's Greg Cunningham in Poland, after the 18-year-old's FA Cup debut against Scunthorpe. The Ireland manager confirmed that he had spoken to City boss Roberto Mancini about the Galway lad, but it's more plausible that the youngster will be invited to whatever summer gathering the FAI can deliver.
Trapattoni would like a warm-weather training camp similar to the Algarve trip which began his reign two years ago. However, the FAI are feeling the pinch financially, as evidenced by the announcement of two May friendlies at the RDS against Algeria and Paraguay, meaning that Ireland will not meet European opposition before the beginning of the Euro 2012 qualification campaign in September.
Two of Trapattoni's first three matches in the dugout came against Serbia and Norway, with the veteran gaffer stressing at the time that it was important to face opposition who would provide a similar challenge to the tests which followed in games that mattered. Circumstances mean it's a different story this time around.