McCarthy: McDonnell Has Earned First-Team Return
Monday, 14th Aug 2017 19:24
Blues boss Mick McCarthy says midfielder Adam McDonnell has earned his recent return to the first-team after impressing him in training.
McDonnell, 20, made his Blues debut in the Capital One Cup victory at Doncaster in 2015/16, then his Championship bow at Derby on the final day of that campaign, but failed to add to his senior appearances last season.
However, the Dubliner came on as a sub at Luton in the Carabao Cup last Tuesday before doing the same at Barnsley on Saturday.
McCarthy admits that former Irish U18 international McDonnell would probably have been surprised to have been involved given the number of central midfielders at the club.
“I didn’t think he’d be playing so much either,” the Blues boss said. “And, do you know what, he wouldn’t have been unless he hadn't have come back and trained as well as he has.
“He’s been really impressive in training, he’s come back with a renewed vigour for it, a better attitude.
“I think maybe he saw players going above him and didn’t think he had a chance. He has trained really well and whenever he’s played, he’s never let me down. I think back to the end of the season before last, the game he played at Derby.
“He didn’t have a good season last year, whatever it was, but he’s come back and he’s looking much, much better. I’m delighted with him. He’ll be in the squad for tomorrow."
He added: “I had no intention of including Adam but he’s one of our players and I wouldn’t have included him if he’d have been like last season, but fair play to him, it's him that's done it. He’s come back with a really good attitude.
“I’m not saying his attitude was bad last year but he’s worked damned hard since he’s come back in, in the gym and he’s trained really well and he’s looked far better.”
McDonnell, who has another year on his Town contract with an option for a further season, had a difficult start to his Town career when FIFA red tape meant he was unable to play competitive football at any level until he turned 18 in May 2015 having signed from hometown club Shelbourne in the previous August.
“He had to wait a long time because of the nonsense with FIFA and registering him as a professional,” McCarthy recalled. “If you remember he couldn’t play because we weren’t offering him education and something else and something else.
“He could come and work in a supermarket for minimum wage and nobody would have been bothered, and we were looking after him.
“So, it was a long drawn-out affair and that didn’t help him at all. He became homesick. I know that’s a couple of years ago now.
“And then last year, for whatever reason, he didn’t have the best season. But he’s doing well.”
In pre-season ahead of 2016/17 former Arsenal youngster James Blanchfield impressed McCarthy but the 19-year-old midfielder was never able to break into the first-team team once the campaign proper got under way.
The Blues boss says injury has hampered the Essex-born youngster more recently but he has now returned to action.
“He’s played today for the U23s for the first time in a long time so he’s a million miles away from the squad at a minute,” he said.
“He’s been injured, but if he needs any motivation, what’s going to really hack him off is the fact that two younger ones are in the team in front of him, so that’s great.”
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