The rocky road to Dublin, aptly enough, begins with a trip to Gibraltar, as Ireland embark on their quest to qualify for UEFA Euro 2020, the tournament which is jointly hosted in the Irish capital.
Monkeys roam free about the monolithic limestone promontory, and while Ireland’s opening game of the campaign is not expected to be placed in the banana-skin category, anything other than a convincing win in the colonial outpost could set Ireland on the proverbial slippery slope.
The new Ireland manager names his first squad on Thursday since returning to the international position and with no friendly matches to help re-acclimatisation, expect McCarthy to put major emphasis on the form players available for selection for this month’s double-header.
McCarthy is expected to name a sizeable squad for the upcoming matches away in Gibraltar on 23 March, followed by the first home game of the campaign, against familiar foes Georgia at the Aviva three days later, 26 March.
Far from the 40-plus collectives that predecessor Martin O’Neill was prone to announce, McCarthy’s initial selection should push past the traditional World Cup or Euro 23, making room for the odd peripheral player and potential injuries.
Alas, the new man in charge, will not be unveiling a brand-spanking, new-look squad to take the nation into the qualifying campaign.
A transition perhaps, yet McCarthy has no time for blooding players and offering experience on the international stage.
And for that reason, the new gaffer will name a squad full of players who can go into the upcoming matches and hit the ground running.
McCarthy can only feasibly pick players that he has the confidence in to start in either of the upcoming games, or at least, make a big impact from the bench.
These matches look set to come too soon to include the in-form Patrick Bamford of Leeds, who scored twice at the weekend but is not yet Ireland qualified.
And while the striker has no senior international experience to speak of, at 25 years of age, and with a wealth of club experience in the Premier League and at the business end of the Championship, he would be someone that McCarthy will feel can improve his squad.
Will Keane is another front man who is a few steps further up the ladder from Bamford and certainly looks set to feature at some stage in the campaign, yet the Hull City frontman, and former England Under-21 international, now on loan at Ipswich, is ruled out through injury for the March fixtures.
Ryan Nolan of Inter Milan, Danny Crowley, playing in the Dutch league with WIllen II and Bayern Munich's Ryan Johansson are probably all aspirational at this stage.
In fact, the only new face in McCarthy’s maiden squad could be one plucked from the lower leagues, as former Under-21 international, James Collins’ 20 goals in League One have helped his side, Luton, to the top of the table.
The former Aston Villa youth player may have been ploughing a lonely furrow in less-than-glamourous locations in recent seasons, such as Crawley Town and Shrewsbury, however, the 6ft 2in target man has always had goals in his locker, something that will not be underestimated by the man in charge.
Otherwise, expect all of the other faces in McCarthy’s squad to have appeared throughout the Martin O’Neill era, yet not necessarily in the same order, to paraphrase an old Morecambe and Wise gag.
Perhaps a coincidence, but potentially a good omen for Ireland, as Seamus Coleman returned to the Everton starting XI last week.
Everton had a 17-day break between league matches and as a result, there was a bit of a reshuffle in the first team, which has worked out quite favourably for Coleman, who looked to be back to his attacking best in the 3-0 win over Cardiff, which saw him keep his place for Sunday’s vital Merseyside derby.
The Ireland captain – under the previous regime, at least – helped his side to a clean sheet against their city rivals, while also helping to dent Liverpool’s title chances.
Coleman’s place in the Ireland starting XI has been, remarkably, questioned due to his lack of first team football at Everton, coinciding with the incredible form that Matt Doherty has shown at Wolves this season.
But McCarthy will surely place this particular conundrum into the "nice headache" category, with two quality Premier League players to choose from. Both will be in the squad and expect the new man to find a place for the duo in his starting XI against Gibraltar and Georgia.
Shane Duffy is enjoying another commanding and influential season at the heart of the Brighton defence and the former Everton man will surely be one of the leaders that McCarthy will look to build his team around.
Elsewhere, Premier League-playing talent is proving a bit more hard to find, with perhaps Jeff Hendrick at Burnley and Harry Arter at Cardiff the only Ireland squad members playing regularly in England’s top flight.
Robbie Brady is out of favour at the moment at Burnley, while Kevin Long is close to a return from injury. Cyrus Christie, meanwhile, has not been in the Fulham starting XI in recent weeks.
Ciaran Clark has done reasonably well at Newcastle this season, yet has been ruled out with an injury in recent weeks. Manager Rafa Benitez suggested that his return was imminent, and he may have seen some game time by the time the international week comes along.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Shane Long is struggling to start at Southampton, while team-mate Michael Obafemi is out injured until the end of the season.
James McCarthy has made the matchday squad with Everton in recent months yet the midfielder is still not looking like he is close to breaking through to the Toffees’ starting side.
Just like the O’Neill era, the majority of this Ireland squad is going to be plucked from the Championship, and while the manager has many options to choose from in England’s second tier, he would probably prefer a better spread of the talent regarding positional choices.
Sean Maguire may prove to be first choice in the goalscoring department as Ireland's search for a successor to Robbie Keane enters its fourth year. Keane's last competitive goal for Ireland came back in 2016 against Gibraltar.
Preston team-mate Callum Robinson has been out injured for the past few months and these games will come too quickly for the forward who has made a real impact during his short Ireland career so far.
The pacey attacker is back training and it might make sense for McCarthy to include him in the squad, if fitness dictates, as an opportunity to get to know the player on a personal level with the Denmark match in mind.
What a feeling being back training with the lads today after 4 months out!! Feeling great, hoping for a positive week👀😊🙏🏽— Callum Robinson (@CallumRobinson7) March 4, 2019
The midfield area is well stocked with Alan Browne and Conor Hourihane both impressing this season at Preston and Aston Villa respectively, while Callum O’Dowda is having an excellent season at Bristol City.
Premier League promotion hopefuls Sheffield United look set to provide, three, if not four, players to the squad with David McGoldrick, Enda Stevens and John Egan proving influential this season, while Scott Hogan may still be called up for his potential as a goalscorer.
The goalkeeping department looks set to also be filled by Championship talent with Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood set to go head-to-head for the number one jersey.
McCarthy will have to select at least one other keeper in his panel, and there is a lot of talk about bringing Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher into the senior set-up.
In truth, there is little available for the manager on that front with Ian Lawlor ruled out until the end of the season, however, former St Patrick’s Athletic shot-stopper Conor O’Malley is playing regularly for Peterborough and might be worth looking at.
Chances of any League of Ireland players making this squad appears to be quite low, with the season only just going a few weeks, however, McCarthy may still need to select one or two more from outside the top two leagues with a handful of candidates in contention from League One.
Other than Collins, Ronan Curtis from Portsmouth might be best placed to secure a place in the squad, while the manager recently name-checked Ryan Delaney for his recent performance for Rochdale, marking the aforementioned Luton striker.
One man who has plenty of international experience to his name and is again enjoying his football at club level is Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady.
The 32-year-old may have been written off by many in terms of earning another international cap, now playing in League One.
But McCarthy may stumble across the wing wizard’s impact in Martin O’Neill’s first competitive match in Georgia and decide the former Celtic man is a risk worth taking.