Football/Soccer

Mick McCarthy delighted to get tune out of Ireland's Glenn Whelan and David McGoldrick

Glenn Whelan returned from the international wilderness to win his 86th cap for the Republic of Ireland against Georgia on Tuesday night

MICK McCarthy heaped praise on Republic of Ireland’s two best players against Georgia on Tuesday night David McGoldrick and Glenn Whelan and hopes he can continue to get a tune out of them for the remainder of their Euro 2020 campaign.

Sheffield United striker McGoldrick received a rousing ovation after he was substituted in the 81st minute having run himself into the ground in the lone striker’s role.

If McGoldrick was man-of-the-match, veteran midfielder Whelan wasn’t far behind him in the defensive midfield position in the tense 1-0 Euro 2020 victory over their Group D opponents.

The Aston Villa man was afforded a farewell game against Northern Ireland last November as he was deemed surplus to requirements by former boss Martin O’Neill.

In the build-up to the friendly against the North, Whelan refused to say he was retiring and after McCarthy was restored to the job he last held 17 years ago he promptly recalled the 35-year-old.

“No, he didn't retire,” confirmed McCarthy

“To play in a 4-3-3 I need a sitter around the place and he was outstanding. His passing was great and he broke things up, a real all round performance.

“That much maligned position of sitting in front of the back four, the water carrier. Well, he carried it particularly well against Georgia."

Prior to last Saturday night's scratchy 1-0 win in Gibraltar, McGoldrick had clocked up a modest six caps - but his club form and McCarthy's intimate knowledge of the 31-year-old's game yielded two excellent displays over the course of three days.

"I think I've got a tune out of all of them, haven't I?" McCarthy mused after Tuesday night's fine win.

"They played well and had a great reaction to what we've done in training with them this week. I've got a great rapport with 'Didzy'. He's somebody who I admire, respect and trust and maybe that helps get a tune out of somebody.

"I can't coach him on what to do, what is he now, 31? I went to see him play against Colchester of all places for Coventry before I signed him [for Ipswich Town].

"He played up front on his own that night and he was brilliant, and I couldn't believe we were getting him from Forest. He was great, him and [Daryl Murphy] 'Murph' were the real deadly duo at one stage. He was great for Ipswich and great for me."

McCarthy also revealed it was a relatively easy decision to stick with Seamus Coleman at right back with Matt Doherty being held in reserve against Georgia.

Doherty, also a right back, played in front of Coleman in Gibraltar with mixed results. The manager acted decisively by replacing Doherty with a more recognised midfielder in Robbie Brady for Tuesday night's home tie.

"Seamus plays right-back every week. The 'Doc' plays right wing-back. And having played him on Saturday, I was never going to change it.

“It’s unfortunate for him but it’s not unfortunate for me because if one of them is injured I’ve got another good one. I said when I first got the job, I’ll play one of them and I’ll talk about the one that doesn’t play. Then, of course, I played the pair of them [against Gibraltar] and it didn’t work. So I’m playing Seamus and I’m afraid it’s just tough on the 'Doc'. And if he gets in for any reason then it’s his place to keep.”

Interestingly, McCarthy refused to countenance the idea of moving Doherty to left back ahead of the in-form Enda Stevens.

“Well, if I’ve got one as good as Enda Stevens then I won’t be doing that, that’s for sure,” said the Ireland manager.

The Republic travel to Denmark in June for their next Euro 2020 qualifier with McCarthy hoping they'll be still top of Group D afterwards.

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