Jack Byrne enjoys a wealth of talent according to Mick McCarthy and the international manager believes that the midfielder has a great chance to showcase his ability as Ireland take on New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium.
McCarthy announced that the Shamrock Rovers star would make his first start for Ireland in Thursday's friendly against the Kiwis, having made his international bow as a substitute against Bulgaria in September.
Byrne made an immediate impact in that fixture, involved in two of Ireland’s goals in the 3-1 victory.
The 2019 PFAI player of the year, who is the only home-based player in the Ireland squad, travelled to Georgia and Switzerland last month but failed to enjoy any game-time throughout the Euro 2020 qualifying double header.
But while all eyes are on Ireland’s must-win encounter against Denmark on Monday, the New Zealand fixture has allowed the manager free rein to select a second-string XI, not risking any of the players who will start against the Danes.
"I want Jack to do what he does for Shamrock Rovers, which is, he gets a hold of the ball, passes it and he creates chances," said McCarthy, speaking at the pre-match press conference.
"His deliveries are good. His penalties are excellent, I saw that in the cup final, that was a great penalty. I want him to show that."
The manager urged caution following Byrne’s impressive debut display, wondering whether he would be able to be so influential against the Swiss.
And while the sentiment appears the same this week, playing Byrne against New Zealand, rather than risking him against Denmark, McCarthy does appear to trust the attack-minded midfielder, and the friendly game will give him another chance to impress, with a possible cameo role on Monday should things go to plan.
The manager bemoaned Ireland’s inability to hold onto the ball in their last two international games, which is perhaps one of the reasons that McCarthy is looking a little more forensically at Byrne heading into the New Zealand match.
"Jack gets the ball moving, he recycles it for others and doesn't give it away," said McCarthy.
"It's not Denmark, it's New Zealand, a big international game and New Zealand are treating it like a big international game.
"And for Jack it will be, and a chance for him to showcase what he's got, because he's got lots. He's done so so much better in the last 12 months.
"Maybe I've influenced that a bit or Terry Connor has, in his all-round game. He's got no problems with the ball and off the ball he's done far better."
McCarthy will expect Byrne to maintain an attack-minded frame of mind in the clash with New Zealand, yet the Hoops playmaker will not be afforded the luxury of a front-three berth, as the manager confirmed that he would play in the midfield three.
Celtic’s Lee O’Connor is also set to start against New Zealand, and like Spurs striker Troy Parrott, the defender will make his debut at the Aviva.
The former Manchester United man is only in the squad due to the fact that he is suspended for the Under-21 match in Armenia on Thursday, however, the manager must have been impressed enough with what he has seen at training to trust the youngster to start for the senior side.
"He has been fine," said McCarthy. "He trained yesterday, on a bigger pitch, not just the small-sided game and Lee was good, he looks to be settling in."
"They come in and they are always a bit quiet, but they don’t come in and tell me that they are nervous, they don’t want to show that," said McCarthy, when asked If the player had shown any nerves as a result of his recent elevation.
"You can tell when you are talking to them or how they are around the lads, but the other lads are great, in terms of interacting with them, and making sure that they have settled in well.
"But they don’t come and tell me, you ask him 'how you doing’, ‘yeah, great, I’m fine’, I’ve no idea how their feet are going under the water, but they seem to be settling in and as I said, the other lads have been very good with them."
And while Parrott's career appears to be heading in only One Direction, the Dublin teenager may need to change his tune if he is hoping to impress the manager on the eve of his international debut.
"I'll see what he sings like tonight at dinner," said McCarthy. "He's got his song to sing. He's making his debut, isn't he?
"What did he sing the last time? One Direction, he did last time [with the Under-15s]. He's promised us he's not going to do that, anyway."
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