Mick McCarthy will not allow cabin fever to disrupt his preparations for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar.
The Ireland squad, minus Richard Keogh, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane and Josh Cullen, who are all on play-off final duty with their respective clubs, is currently in Portugal for a week-long training camp. The squad will then reconvene in Dublin next weekend ahead of the games in Copenhagen on June 7 and at the Aviva Stadium three days later.
That is a lengthy period at the end of a gruelling season, and as veterans of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Euro 2012 squad can attest, confinement within the camp can have a detrimental effect.
However, McCarthy is confident that will not happen with his squad, and he will use one of Trapattoni’s stalwarts, coach Robbie Keane, as his barometer.
He said: “I’ve been doing it a long time and I know full well if you have them trapped in the hotel, never going out and never doing anything, that’s going to cause a problem, because it would have caused me a problem.
“I have a really great ally in Robbie, who has been involved in all of those camps and experienced that.
“That’s real good info for me to pick his brain on that. He’s quite happy to share that and chirp up and tell me. He would be more than happy to say so.”
That said, McCarthy was mystified at the suggestion that players might react adversely to the programme.
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He said: “I don’t get that, to be honest. I thought long and hard about it and we’ll make sure that we’re not all work and no play.
“I did think about people doing things, stuff in the summer… I got asked to come in and missed my brother’s wedding. I phoned my missus up – when I finally got hold of her – and said, ‘I’m going to play football in the summer’.
“I don’t get it, and I think most of the lads will be the same. I’ve not had one say to me, you know… I just can’t get my head around that.
“If some of them are not playing – but even then, I remember training with lads who never really got games, but turned up because they enjoyed turning up and wanted to be with their pals, their peers and be involved in the squad and have a chance of playing.”