Sammon named in experimental Ireland team
Updated: Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 21:09
Conor Sammon, Greg Cunningham and Ciaran Clark will start for the Republic of Ireland against Poland on Wednesday night at the Aviva Stadium.
Sammon will make his first appearance for Ireland as he partners Shane Long up front, while Cunningham and Clark will hope to impress Giovanni Trapattoni in defence.
David Forde gets the nod ahead of Kieren Westwood in goal as Trapattoni hinted at the weekend.
Hull youngster Robbie Brady will start on the right side of midfield, with Sunderland's James McClean on the righ, and James McCarthy will join Glenn Whelan in the middle.
Ireland XI to play Poland: Forde, McShane, O'Shea, Clark, Cunningham, Brady, McCarthy, Whelan, McClean, Long, Sammon.
Wigan star McCarthy will win his seventh successive senior international cap and with two vital World Cup qualifiers coming up next month in which the damage of a 6-1 home defeat by Germany needs to be repaired, he knows exactly what is at stake.
The midfielder said: "We need to try to put it (the negativity which surrounded the Germany game) to the back of our heads and try to really kick on now. We have got a friendly against Poland, which is not going to be easy.
"It's a good test for us and then next month, we have got the two qualifiers, and we need to go into those games and try to be as positive as we can.
"It's not going to be easy. Sweden and Austria are two massive games and two tough games. They could make or break the group, to be honest."
While welcoming an injection of younger talent, the 22-year-old is well aware of the value of the more senior players in the squad.
"It's always good to see the young boys coming through, but obviously the gaffer can't just blood all his youngsters at the same time,” he added.
"We have still got the experienced pros in the squad and we always need that to help us and back it up."
It is a measure of McCarthy's quality that he has already made more than 100 Barclays Premier League appearances for the Latics since his move from Hamilton in July 2009.
The confidence placed in him by manager Roberto Martinez has paid dividends, and he has taken that on to the international stage.
Asked if he could have expected to have played so much top-flight football by this stage in his career, McCarthy said: "No, definitely not.
"I have worked hard and it's down to the gaffer giving me my chance at Wigan. He believed in me at a young age and he paid money to Hamilton.
"He's been brilliant for me since I went to the club. He's always believed in me and he's always given me my chance, and I am just happy to be part of that.
"It's a dream come true to go and play in the Premier League, to be honest."
Such has been McCarthy's form that he has been linked with a series of potential suitors with Arsenal among them during the most recent flurry of rumours.
However, he remains relaxed about his immediate future.
He said: "It's always good to see your name linked with big clubs, but I am a Wigan Athletic player. I will just keep working hard and if something comes up, then something comes up.
"But at this moment in time, I am happy to keep learning my trade at Wigan.
"Obviously, you want to play at the top level, but I am happy at Wigan just now and we just need to see what the next six months brings us."