Mick McCarthy says Josh Cullen is pushing for Republic of Ireland debut in European Qualifier
By Joe Tanner
Last Updated: 09/06/19 4:59pm
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and Seamus Coleman have both tipped West Ham midfielder Josh Cullen to make his first senior international appearance ahead of the European Qualifier with Gibraltar in Dublin on June 10.
The West Ham academy product spent the 2018/19 campaign on loan at Charlton where he made made five assists and scored once in 29 League One appearances.
Cullen featured in Charlton's 2-1 win over Sunderland in the play-off final which sealed the Addicks' Championship return; the 23 year-old delivered the initial cross which led to Patrick Bauer's 94th-minute winner at Wembley.
The Hammers prospect has also undergone loan spells at Bolton and Bradford.
He has played 17 times for Republic of Ireland U21s and is yet to make a senior appearance for his national side, but Mick McCarthy says the uncapped Cullen has made a strong claim to be selected ahead of the upcoming qualifier.
"Josh Cullen has been excellent and has made a valid case to get a game," the Ireland boss said.
"But you could argue that the midfield has been as good as any party of the team with the likes of Glen Whelan and Conor Hourihane and Jeff [Hendrick] doing well.
"He's making a case for himself against some really good players, he's impressed everybody."
Captain Seamus Coleman added: "He's been different class, he is just very brave wants to get the ball back and pass it forward, he has been impressive and he's a great lad around the camp as well.
"Hopefully he can go back to West Ham and play there too."
Republic of Ireland go into Monday's game with Gibraltar after securing a late draw with Denmark in Copenhagen on Friday, thanks to a Shane Duffy header in the 85th minute.
An early second-half goal from Hendrick gave Ireland a 1-0 victory against Gibraltar in the reverse qualifying game in March; the 195th ranked side in the FIFA World Rankings frustrated Mick McCarthy's side in the away clash and the Ireland boss is wary of the threat they pose ahead of the tie at the Aviva Stadium on Monday.
"Gibraltar are a threat at corners and free-kicks, we saw how stubborn they were; but for Darren Randolph we could have been one nil down in that game," McCarthy added.
"Us being favourites doesn't effect the spirit and the mood in the camp, that was evident when we equalised against Denmark against a very good side."