Supporters of the Republic of Ireland can breathe something of a sigh of relief after James McCarthy was yesterday named in the 29-man squad for the upcoming fixtures against Macedonia and Uruguay.
The Wigan Athletic midfielder has yet to be competitively capped for the Irish senior side but in and around last month’s Carling Nations Cup game against Wales there were question marks over the player’s international future.
After being sidelined for three months with an ankle injury, the 20-year-old was initially included in Noel King’s U-21 squad for a friendly fixture in Cyprus. McCarthy was then drafted into the senior squad for the friendly against Wales only to pull out as he had not at that point played a full 90 minutes for his club since making a comeback from injury.
What followed was a number of unclear declarations by Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni surrounding the player’s future and it was mooted in certain quarters that Glasgow-born McCarthy would declare for Scotland.
However, the week before last McCarthy turned up for a meeting with Trapattoni and swept away any doubts about his allegiance to the Irish cause.
Sources suggest that the two men had an amicable meeting of minds in the Wrightington Hotel and went on to settle any outstanding issues. McCarthy qualifies to play for Ireland as his late grandfather Packie Coll was from Gweedore.
Shay Given will miss out on the chance to add to his record 110 caps as the Manchester City goalkeeper has a shoulder injury but is hopeful of taking part in Ireland’s end of season outings against Scotland, Northern Ireland and the return with Macedonia.
Keiren Westwood from Coventry City is expected to deputise. Darren Randolph of Motherwell and Millwall’s David Forde are included in the squad as back-up. As both men are uncapped it’s surprising that Ireland’s form goalkeeper in the UK right now, QPR’s Paddy Kenny, remains in the international wilderness having not been capped since the infamous 5-2 loss in Cyprus in 2006.
Seamus Coleman from Killybegs is part of the squad having started the game against Wales on the right-side of midfield and will be hoping to add another cap to the one he picked up on his debut. Ciaran Clark of Aston Villa, whose grandmother is from Milford, is in a similar boat to Everton’s Coleman, having also made his first appearance last month. Aiden McGeady, who also qualifies through Donegal ancestry, is also in the squad.
Ireland take on Macedonia in their Euro 2012 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week before hosting Uruguay in a friendly clash three days later at the same venue.
Ireland squad: Keiren Westwood, David Forde, Darren Randolph, Kevin Foley, John O’Shea, Ciaran Clark, Seamus Coleman, Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Stephen Kelly, Darren O’Dea, Kevin Kilbane, Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson, Glenn Whelan, Paul Green, Liam Lawrence, James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady, Keith Treacy, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Jonathan Walters, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Leon Best, Andy Keogh.