Scouting Report: Curtis continues to make headway
The 22-year-old former Derry City attacker, born in London and raised in Donegal, won two caps under previous Ireland boss Martin O’Neill.
Curtis was one of several front players named last Thursday in McCarthy’s provisional squad for the EURO 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia. Significantly, he was the only one to score at the weekend in England - and in front of the watching McCarthy at that.
“Ronan has 12 goals now for Portsmouth as they push for a return to the Championship and many of them have been special,” said McCarthy.
“His latest goal, on Saturday, was definitely in that category. It was a real bullet header and one that the goalkeeper was never going to stop. He’s naturally a wide player, as we have seen on the many occasions we have watched him this season, but Ronan is a real goal threat as well.
“He’s a right-footer playing on the left and he is always looking to cut in from the wing behind the full-back and get into scoring positions inside the six-yard box. It is very difficult for defenders to cope with an elusive player who drifts in like that. It’s why Ronan gets so many goals and I really like that in a wide player.”
Ipswich Town's Alan Judge, watched by assistant manager Terry Connor in the 1-1 Championship draw at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, was another player to impress before decisions are made on selecting the final Ireland squad for McCarthy’s return to the job.
McCarthy added: “Terry [Connor] was at the game and Alan [Judge] played top left in a three-man attack. He’s switched behind a midfield role and that wide role a few times this season and he was excellent again on Saturday.
“It’s great to see him back playing consistently well after his injury and he’s another player who has given us food for thought.”
Connor also watched goalkeeper Keiren Westwood keep a clean sheet for Sheffield Wednesday against Sheffield United last Monday night, and again saw the shot-stopper in action against Derby County in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
“There’s no doubt that Wednesday have been a better team since Keiren came back into the side earlier this year,” stated McCarthy. “He’s on form at a good time and it’s great to have competition between Darren Randolph and Keiren ahead of the qualifiers.
“I was also glad to see David McGoldrick and Scott Hogan start for Sheffield United, alongside John Egan and Enda Stevens, in their 2-0 win at home to Rotherham on Saturday.
“David played all but the last six minutes and Scott is just waiting on that first goal. They’re at home to Brentford on Tuesday so we’ll have another look before finalising the squad.”
The good news for McCarthy arrived via team doctor Alan Byrne’s medical update on Saturday night when he confirmed that Shane Long (dead leg) and Seamus Coleman (illness) both expect to be back in full action this week.