Mick McCarthy gave a very good indication of what side to expect as the Ireland trained in Dublin ahead of the vital Euro 2020 qualifier.

When the squad was announced last month, McCarthy voiced his concerns that several of his key players had not being playing, but in the intervening weeks, the manager's anxiety appear to have been lessened as the players in question have enjoyed ample minutes on the pitch with their respective clubs.

McCarthy’s main area of concern was the midfield three as Glenn Whelan had just signed with a new club without having played, Conor Hourihane lost his place in the starting XI at Aston Villa, while Jeff Hendrick could not break back into the Burnley side.

Whelan, of course, answered the international call when McCarthy returned as Ireland manager, having retired under Martin O’Neill, yet the current boss would have struggled to justify his inclusion with no football under his belt this season.

Thankfully for the manager, Whelan has played in two league games over the past ten days, while Hourihane played and scored for Aston Villa in the League Cup last week, and Hendrick started for Burnley in the same competition.

And McCarthy made it very clear that he is relying on experienced players for this week’s vital qualifier against the group’s top seeds.

"It’s the sort of game that I wanted the experienced players to be fit," said McCarthy.

Glenn Whelan  and James Collins

"Glenn has got a club, Jeff has played two games, Conor has played during the week and scored a couple of goals and got on on Saturday, so the midfield has had more games, thankfully."

No doubt the manager had hatched a back-up plan for a scenario where that midfield trio were lacking the requisite game-time, and McCarthy admitted that he was seriously considering Harry Arter for inclusion, based on the fact that the tough-tackling midfielder is playing well for his new side Fulham.

"Harry Arter has been playing regularly. I went to watch him, he played as a sitter against Nottingham Forest and was excellent.

"Prior to the last couple of weeks, Glenn Whelan hadn’t got a club, Jeff Hendrick hadn’t been playing, Conor had started the season but missed a couple of games, James McCarthy was in and out, so the midfield situation was kind of open really.

"So Arter had a good chance. It was a disappointing one, having been playing regularly," added McCarthy in relation to Arter’s subsequent withdrawal from the squad

It was announced last Thursday that Arter was left out of the squad, as he is scheduled to have a procedure on an ankle injury, however, the midfielder started for Fulham against Cardiff the following night, playing for 68 minutes before getting sent off for a second bookable offence.

So while Arter was in the mix for a start against the Swiss, another midfielder who has been in the spotlight recently would not have been considered, despite being named in the squad.

James McCarthy is back playing for new side Crystal Palace, and while McCarthy has watched the player on a number of occasions, he admitted that he would not have been ready for inclusion against the Swiss.

McCarthy was named in the final 25 for the double-header, however, the midfielder withdrew from the squad and the manager said that he understands why the player made the decision not to travel to meet up with the squad.

"I can understand where he's coming from. I don't get disappointed by it... because he wouldn't have played in this game.

"I think he had had five games up until the start of this season in two years, and then he's come back and he's come on as sub for Palace.

"I've watched him twice – I've been to see him in the 23s, saw him against Colchester – none of those games will be anywhere near this game that we're playing on Thursday night."

Looking ahead to the game on Thursday, McCarthy is full of admiration for the visitors to the Aviva Stadium and he believes that they justify their rankings as one of the top sides in Europe.

Swiss players celebrate scoring against Georgia back in March 

 "They've been one of the top teams in Europe for a long time, not winning things, but always at the competitions, always doing well in them.

"The manager has been there a while, they have got a good system, the way they play and they've got good players within that system playing for good clubs."

And while McCarthy was in no doubt that he will be playing for a win on Thursday night, a result that would open up an impressive nine-point gap on their opponents.

However, when pushed, the manager admitted that he would take a point if it was offered to him right now.

"I probably would, yes," said McCarthy. "Not that we are going to try to get that, but bearing in mind the points that we have got already, if we remained unbeaten until the end...

"They're a good side, but we're not setting up to get a draw, we're going to try to. But if it turns out we end up with a point, I'll be happy at not being beaten.

"We've got harder games to come, I'm under no illusions, and that starts on Thursday."

Follow Republic of Ireland versus Switzerland this Thursday via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app or watch live on RTÉ2 from 7pm.

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