IRELAND BOSS MICK McCarthy praised goalkeeper Max O’Leary after watching him in Shrewsbury’s 2-0 loss to Portsmouth on Saturday.
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The 23-year-old Bath-born goalkeeper qualifies for the Republic through his Kerry-born grandfather and was called up to the squad last May for qualifiers with Denmark and Gibraltar after Bournemouth’s Mark Travers withdrew due to injury.
O’Leary is current on loan, having played 15 times for parent club Bristol City in the Championship last season.
McCarthy watched the player at the weekend, while also having a looked at in-form Portsmouth winger Ronan Curtis.
The ex-Derry City player is “making his claim for the play-off,” McCarthy told the FAI’s official website, adding: “He didn’t score against Shrewsbury but you could see how confident he is at the minute. He’s on top form with Pompey and he did well on Saturday, as did Marcus Harness who may well feature for us in the future.
“Getting to see Max O’Leary was a bonus. Max trained with us in Portugal in the summer while he sorted out his paperwork and while he could do nothing about the two goals on Saturday, he looks a good goalkeeping prospect.”
Ireland are short of goalkeepers playing first-team football currently. Darren Randolph has mainly been second choice since joining West Ham from Middlesbrough.
With Mark Travers also not seeing much first-team action at Bournemouth, Kieran O’Hara is the only stopper included in the last squad who has enjoyed regular senior football, lining out 41 times in all competitions for League One outfit Burton.
Meanwhile, McCarthy expressed sympathy for injured pair James McClean and Ciaran Clark.
“I sent Ciaran a text on Monday wishing him well and assuring him, as we did with James McClean when he got injured last week, that we will give him all the time he needs to get fit for Slovakia,” he said