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Wigan star McCarthy named in Ireland U-21 squad

JAMES McCARTHY'S curious standing in the Irish international set-up was re-emphasised yesterday when he was named in the U-21 squad for the February 9 friendly with Cyprus in Larnaca.

The Wigan midfielder was left out of Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for the game with Wales 24 hours earlier because the Italian believed he wasn't ready after his return from an ankle setback which had sidelined him over the winter.

However, McCarthy played and scored for Wigan against Aston Villa on Tuesday night and has now been summoned into Noel King's party.

Trapattoni had previously indicated that the Carling Nations Tournament would be an ideal time to give the highly promising midfielder further senior experience. Therefore, it is slightly surprising that he is in line for a trip to Cyprus, although there is still a window for the Italian to call the 20-year-old into the Welsh party if players drop out through injury.

Meanwhile, King has called up American-born striker Conor Doyle, who has yet to fully decide whether his international future lies with the US or Ireland.

Doyle has spent time in recent months with the US set-up, but King is a huge admirer and was keen to bring the teenager into the fold so he could experience the Irish camp.

Promising youngsters Robert Brady (Manchester United), Conor Clifford (Chelsea) and Shane Duffy (Everton) are also included in the squad. And Cypriot-based duo Mikey Collins and Robbie Gibbons get their chance to impress.

League of Ireland trio Paddy Madden (Bohemians) Daniel Kearns (Dundalk) and Enda Stevens (Shamrock Rovers) are on the standby list.

rep of ireland U-21 (squad v Cyprus) -- R Branagan (Bury); I McLoughlin (Ipswich), G Gunning (Blackburn), S Duffy (Everton), R Kiernan (Watford), M Connolly (Bolton), R Towell (Hibernian), J Dunleavy (Barnet), S O'Connor (Ipswich), J McCarthy (Wigan), C Clifford (Chelsea), C Hourihane (Ipswich), A Doran (Inverness CT), J Devitt (Hull City), C Doyle (Derby), R Brady (Man Utd), J Collins (Shrewsbury), M Collins (APEP), R Gibbons (Alki Larnaca). Stand-by List: L Oyebanjo (Histon), D McCrory (Dagenham & Redbridge), E Stevens (Shamrock Rovs), D Kearns (Dundalk), G Morrissey (Cork City), J Hendrick (Derby), R Murray (Ipswich), S Scannell (C Palace), J Mason (Plymouth), R Murray (Ipswich), P Madden (Bohs).

Irish Independent