/ Soccer

Trap Spanish challenge for McCarthy

Updated: Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 23:09 | Comments

James McCarthy could be looking for a new club during the summer
James McCarthy could be looking for a new club during the summer

Giovanni Trapattoni has challenged James McCarthy to step up his football education by pitting his wits against Spain's superstars in New York.

The 22-year-old midfielder has risen to prominence in recent months to become a key member of Trapattoni's new-look team.

He missed Friday night's World Cup qualifier victory over the Faroe Islands through suspension, but was on the plane bound for the United States and is expected to start the enticing friendly at Yankee Stadium during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

That could thrust him into direct contact with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, and Trapattoni is confident from his own experience that he will become a better player for it.

He said: "Yesterday I said James, 'James, in this game you have this great opportunity to play against the famous and most important players', because I became famous when I was like James.

"I played against Pele, Cruyff, Eusebio - they were the best players in the world. I grew because I took confidence because I could play against them.

"I told McCarthy he must believe. He has vision, he has good shooting, but he can be more enterprising."

McCarthy's development has been one of Trapattoni's main concerns during this four-match end-of-season campaign with the manager alternately praising his contributions, but also attempting to coax even more out of a player in whom he believes there is great potential.

However, he has not been alone with the Ireland boss having also been delighted with the efforts of previously unheralded Derby midfielder Jeff Hendrick.

The 21-year-old has been something of a revelation, and he too could get a chance to rub shoulders with some of the world game's biggest names.

Many of Trapattoni's players, of course, ply their trade in the lower reaches of the Premier League or in some cases, the Championship, and that is a situation he admits he sometimes struggles to understand.

He said: "I think very much about our players who play in the Championship and not in the Premier League.

"For example, Conor Sammon, Hendrick, they play Championship, and I have to ask 'Why?' when I see the games in the Premier League and the way they play with us. Quality is quality.

"Keith Andrews, for example, didn't play, he was left on bench. But he played with us and we qualified [for the Euro 2012 finals].

"I don't want to get the managers or clubs angry, but I would like to see my players playing for top clubs. Unfortunately, they play in the Championship or at the bottom of the Premier League."

Indeed, Trapattoni hinted that some of his players should perhaps be talking to their agents this summer with McCarthy's future in particular the subject of speculation following Wigan's relegation.

But in the short term, his focus will be on the game against Spain, which is a repeat of Ireland's second game at the Euro 2012 finals, a contest which ended 4-0 to the eventual winners.

Only three of the men who started in Gdansk that night - Sean St Ledger, Robbie Keane and Simon Cox - have made the trip to New York, although Trapattoni is confident that, while Ireland may not win the game against a side preparing for the Confederations Cup, they will not be embarrassed after their 1-1 draw with England at Wembley on 29 May.

He said: "At this moment, we are conscious of the past and conscious of our quality.

"England are not like Spain - Spain have more creative and are technically superior. But we are confident with our system and balance.

"I don't know if we can win, but we won't be humiliated. I think the last three or four show us that."

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