McCarthy works to widen op­tions

Good week­end as Hen­drick, Long and Clark make their mark

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer - Em­met Malone

As De­clan Rice turns in an­other man-of-the-match award-win­ning per­for­mance against Arse­nal, scores his first se­nior goal for West Ham and has the Match of the Day crew jok­ing about how many games he will play for Eng­land over the years ahead, Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager Mick McCarthy con­tin­ues to work to widen his op­tions in other ar­eas of the pitch.

McCarthy says he has spo­ken to Patrick Bam­ford of Leeds United, is plan­ning to meet Southamp­ton’s Nathan Red- mond, and has raised the no­tion of a re­turn to in­ter­na­tional ac­tion with Daryl Mur­phy of Not­ting­ham For­est.

Bam­ford is the longer term prospect, and the man­ager seems pos­i­tive about the 25-year-old, who played one friendly un­der­age game for Ire­land be­fore declar­ing for Eng­land.

“I’ve spo­ken to Patrick,” he says. “I was due to go meet him at the Leeds game with QPR at the week­end, but he was in­jured so he didn’t travel, so I didn’t get a chance. But my in­ten­tion is to meet him and have a chat. He wants to meet me.

“I do l i k e h i m. He’ s a goal-scorer; he’s a proven goal-scorer, tech­ni­cally a very good fin­isher, and we haven’t got that many. To be fair we haven’t got that many that are play­ing.”

McCarthy has con­firmed that he sees Séa­mus Cole­man re­tain­ing the cap­taincy of the Ir­ish team for the com­ing cam­paign, that Alan Kelly is back on board as goal­keep­ing coach, and that the squad is all but cer­tain to head to Por­tu­gal for a train­ing camp at the end of the English league sea­son.

The man­ager will have taken some en­cour­age­ment from events over the week­end, with Jeff Hen­drick, Shane Long and Ciaran Clark amongst those to make their mark.

Rice de­scribed his goal in Satur­day’s Lon­don derby, a well place first-time strike from in­side the area, as his “best birth­day present ever”.

The rapidly-ris­ing Lon- don-born star turns 20 to­day, and his lat­est per­for­mance sug­gests that he would not be far off the Eng­land team on cur­rent form, a prospect that used to be seen as some­what more re­mote when com­pared with the im­me­di­acy of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that would be open to him should he de­cide to de­clare for Ire­land.

Burn­ley’s goals

Hen­drick, mean­while, had a big hand in both of Burn­ley’s goals against Ful­ham. Both were ini­tially put down as own goals, but the first was the prod­uct of a shot that looked to be on tar­get be­fore Joe Bryan in­ter­vened, while the sec­ond was a dan­ger­ous look­ing cross that De­nis Odoi headed be­yond his own goal­keeper.

“I don’t know,” said Hen­drick, when asked about get­ting for­mally cred­ited for the first one.

“I haven’t seen it back. I tried to look at it on the screen when I was trot­ting back but once we got the goal to­day it was about the three points.”

Long seems to be widely cred­ited with Southamp­ton’s sec­ond against Le­ices­ter City de­spite the fact that it didn’t ac­tu­ally look to be on tar­get un­til the goal­keeper’s at­tempt to save back­fired. It is the Ir­ish­man’s first in 15 ap­pear­ances this sea­son after hav­ing scored two in 35 last year.

“I think my per­for­mances have been good of late,” said Long, who also won his side’s penalty for the other goal in a 2-1 win and has cer­tainly shown sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment un­der new man­ager Ralph Hasen­hüttl. “But I felt as a striker I hadn’t been get­ting chances to miss.”

Clark scored a fine headed goal for New­cas­tle who lost at Chelsea, while in the Cham­pi­onship David McGoldrick got his fifth in six games as Sh­effield United beat QPR.

■ Mick McCarthy: “I do like him (Patrick Bam­ford). He’s a proven goal-scorer”

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