SCOUTING REPORT | Fitness concerns ease for Stevens
The Dubliner faces up to a fortnight on the sidelines with a calf strain picked up in the 1-1 draw with Brighton but Ireland boss Mick McCarthy is keener to talk about Enda’s power than his injury ahead of the play-off trip to Bratislava.
“It was a hell of a shot from Enda,” McCarthy told FAI.ie. “I’ve seen it described as a screamer on one report and that’s exactly what it was. Enda has been on top form for Sheffield United and for Ireland all season and it’s nice to see him amongst the goals now as well.
“We’ll take goals from anywhere in Bratislava at the end of March so the more Irish players scoring right now, the better as far as I’m concerned. As for his injury, he was taken off more as a precaution than anything else and Chris Wilder hopes to have Enda available for the Premier League game against Norwich on Saturday week.
“If he gets back in time for that one then he will have plenty of time for first team action before we meet up in Dublin on March 24th.”
It was a weekend for Irish goals as McCarthy’s Euro 2020 hopefuls made their point ahead of the March 13th announcement of his squad for the play-off semi-final away to Slovakia.
Shane Long got the first goal for Southampton as Ireland Under-19 international midfielder Will Smallbone made an impressive debut for the Saints in their vital 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
Ireland’s Assistant Manager Terry Connor was at his old Ashton Gate stomping ground on Saturday as Callum Robinson maintained his scoring run with the first goal in a 3-0 win for promotion chasing West Brom.
Scott Hogan, on loan at Birmingham from Aston Villa, made it three goals in four games for the Blues with a spectacular last gasp equaliser in the 3-3 draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday while Alan Browne headed a late winner for Preston against Hull City.
“I can have no complaints about the flow of goals at present,” added McCarthy who also noted David McGoldrick’s return to action for the Blades as a 74th minute substitute.
“Shane has played himself right back into the reckoning at Southampton, not because of his two goals in recent weeks but because he is playing week in and week out and showing the benefits of that.
“Scott has really got himself back into the picture for Slovakia with his goals for Birmingham and his finish on Saturday was top class and timely while Terry was impressed with Callum’s all-round game against Bristol City as well as with his ‘lucky’ header for his second goal in as many games. Alan Browne used his head as well for his goal. We just need them all to keep playing and keep scoring going into March.”
McCarthy himself concentrated on his midfield options at the weekend as he watched Jason Knight and Harry Arter in the Derby draw with Fulham while he was at Selhurst Park on Saturday to see James McCarthy in action for Crystal Palace in their win against Newcastle United.
“Jason is doing well at Derby and he has really made the first team breakthrough this season which is great for us,” said McCarthy.
“James did exactly what I knew he would do for Palace. He does the simple things well, sits in front of the back four and controls things for them. Like Shane at Southampton, he is benefitting from regular first team football.”