Mc­Carthy and Keane to meet Rice next month

Man­ager says there will be a big ef­fort to add to the squad be­tween now and Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page -

Mick Mc­Carthy will take Rob­bie Keane with him to meet De­clan Rice next month as the new Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager seeks to end the teenager’s on­go­ing in­ter­na­tional ex­ile, and there will be a wider ef­fort, he says, to add to the play­ers brought into the fold by Martin O’Neill be­tween now and the start of the Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign in March.

With Mc­Carthy hav­ing just one cam­paign in charge, time he ad­mits is tight. How­ever, he says he has al­ready started to work his way through the names of the cur­rent group and those play­ers out­side it with a view to see­ing where some im­prove­ment might be found, how­ever mar­ginal.

“With 10 [group] games it’s not like there is this big tran­si­tion pe­riod where I can say ‘you can go’ and I will bring in all the young play­ers that Ruud Dok­ter is telling me about,” said Mc­Carthy, a lit­tle while after his ap­point­ment had been con­firmed at the Aviva sta­dium yes­ter­day.

“That’s go­ing to be tough; it needs to be a team of Ir­ish play­ers that I think have a fair bit of ex­pe­ri­ence. But if there are some good young play­ers around that are pulling trees up then who knows. De­clan Rice, if that’s the case, play­ing for West Ham, why not?”

Rice, he said, had had ev­ery right to take a step back after hav­ing been “over­whelmed” by the pres­sure of mak­ing a de­ci­sion he per­haps had not an­tic­i­pated.

“So he’s had that. I will go back and ask him now, and I will take Rob­bie with me, see if that has any bear­ing on it. He’s a good young player, and some­one we should be look­ing to build a team around.”

Be­yond that, he said , it was a lit­tle too early for specifics although “I’ve got a list of the squad, I’m not daft. I’ve had it on my phone, and had a look at all play­ers who qual­ify, and I’ll be go­ing to watch them again whether they are play­ing in a 23s or a friendly game. Ruud Dok­ter will know the younger play­ers. I’ll be do­ing my miles; we’ll have a look.”

His long-time as­sis­tant at Wolves and Ip­swich Terry Con­nor, is, like Rob­bie Keane, al­ready on board, but the rest of his man­age­ment team has to be worked out in the com­ing weeks.

The pre­ferred sys­tem ap­pears to have been set­tled on al­ready. Mc­Carthy joked about hav­ing aban­doned 4-4-2 since he was last around, and made it clear 3-5-2 would not be his thing. How­ever, John De­laney re­vealed that in their dis­cus­sions over the last cou­ple of days the 59- year-old had in­di­cated that 4-3-3 was the way he en­vis­aged go­ing.

Open-ended

The big­ger ques­tion was how he feels about when he will be go­ing and Mc­Carthy in­sisted that, hav­ing ini­tially hoped for a more open-ended of­fer, he is con­tent with the chance he is be­ing given just to man­age his coun­try again.

“I thought I might get two terms,” he said be­tween dis­plays of his trade­mark grin. “Who doesn’t want two terms, come on. But I knew that wasn’t the case so I ac­cepted it, and was fine with it.

“It needs to be a team of Ir­ish play­ers that I think have a fair bit of ex­pe­ri­ence

“I could have said ‘take it or leave it’ and they could have said, ‘see you, we’ll get some­body else’. They might have gone and given it to Stephen, and I wanted it. Hon­estly, it’s a real hon­our, priv­i­lege and plea­sure to be get­ting it back.

He had, he said, stayed just a lit­tle too long the last time, and so might end up be­ing the bet­ter for hav­ing a time­frame set in stone now.

“I think whether you’ve done good, bad or in­dif­fer­ent, you might as well shift your­self. If I’ve done well and we’ve qual­i­fied, there’ll be some­thing else for me down the line. If we do badly and don’t qual­ify, you guys wouldn’t want me, no­body would. So it’s not such a bad thing.

“And good luck to Stephen. I looked at his list of achieve­ments – pretty damn good. And I think it would be great for Ir­ish foot­ball if he could take over a team that’s do­ing well and progress.”

He had just one thing re­ally that he set straight for the record. “All that stuff about ‘un­fin­ished busi­ness,’ it’s the big­gest load of pony. It’s not. It’s new busi­ness.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: RYAN BYRNE/INPHO

Ire­land man­ager Mick Mc­Carthy with his as­sis­tant Terry Con­nor and coach Rob­bie Keane.

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