McCarthy talks up Byrne’s prospects of featuring in Slovakia play-off

SHAMROCK ROVERS PLAYMAKER Jack Byrne continues to enhance his reputation in the eyes of Mick McCarthy as the crucial showdown with Slovakia looms.

The Republic of Ireland will aim to move a step closer to qualification for this summer’s European Championships by winning in Bratislava on 26 March.

Byrne netted for the third time in five games for his club this season by opening the scoring in the 3-2 win at Sligo Rovers over the weekend.

McCarthy, who was in Tallaght to see the 23-year-old in action against Dundalk a week earlier, had footage sent to him of Saturday night’s game at the Showgrounds.

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The Ireland manager is scheduled to name his squad for the game against Slovakia on Friday, with Byrne – who he capped in the recent friendlies against Bulgaria and New Zealand – looking likely to be included.

“If Jack is in the squad on Friday – and there’s every chance he will be – then he will be in on form,” McCarthy told

“I was impressed with him in Tallaght against Dundalk and he carried that form into the game in Sligo so he is playing consistently well at present.

“Jack’s been with us for the past year now and he is developing as a player as we want him to. He has a spark about him and can do something a little bit different. That could be very handy in a tight play-off game.”

McCarthy also expressed his satisfaction over his midfield options, singling out both Josh Cullen and Glenn Whelan for praise.

Cullen, who won his two caps to date in the aforementioned friendlies, played in Charlton Athletic’s 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough as he continues his spell on loan from West Ham United.