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Mick McCarthy confirms left-field Hourihane tactical call

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

11:01 9 Sep 2019


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Mick McCarthy says he will deploy Conor Hourihane at left-back against Bulgaria.

The Ireland manager revealed the surprise decision at Monday's media update.

While he may be left-footed, the Aston Villa midfielder has predominantly operated centrally for clubs and country.

But McCarthy feels Hourihane can do a job for him at left-back in a back-four for the Bulgaria friendly.

"Conor Hourihane's playing left-back," he said.

"He's been one of those that's not been playing and I'd like him to have some more minutes. And he wanted to have some more minutes."

Hourihane's Left foot wand

While game-time may be the main motivation for both player and manager, McCarthy also backed the Cork man to have the attributes to thrive in that unfamiliar role.

"He's a very intelligent player, that's for sure," said McCarthy.

"He's got a wand of a left foot and if we can get him in further up the pitch and get him where he can deliver crosses, then we should get a bit of joy out of that.

"We'll see who's up against him. If he's got a flying winger, can he deal with it? He's going to get 90 minutes and he might not get many more between now and next month.

"But at least I'll have had a look at him and see that. It might be another string to his bow. And all the other [options], I know they can play there."

He also added he doesn't need to see options like Greg Cunningham and James McClean among others play as he knows what they can do.

McCarthy also confirmed that he'd consulted Hourihane about playing at left-back.

"I sat down and spoke to him about it," he said.

"TC (Terry Connor) gave him a few pointers and we'll see.

"He's got all the tools to play there, that's for sure. What is he, six foot? He can defend the far post, he's competitive enough and he's got a great left-foot. He's a central midfield player so he's had to track runners and defend from that position."

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