Ireland boss plays down prospect of City striker earning first senior call-up ahead of play-off
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Mick McCarthy has calmed talk of call-ups for some of the Republic of Ireland’s top talent, including Norwich City striker Adam Idah.
The young striker - who celebrates his 19th birthday today - has been a star turn at under-21 level for his country and rose to prominence last month when he became the Canaries' youngest ever hat-trick scorer.
After notching a treble in a 4-2 win over Championship side Preston in the FA Cup third roundMcCarthy had spoken about the prospect of Idah forcing his way into senior contention ahead of a two-legged Euro 2020 qualification play-off against Slovakia in March.
That followed hot on the heels of a brief Premier League debut as a substitute during a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on New Year's Day and was followed by a start at Manchester United with senior strikers Teemu Pukki and Josip Drmic injured.
That was a 4-0 defeat which gave him little chance to impress however and he hasn't been involved with the first team since Pukki and Drmic's return to fitness, playing all of a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United U23s at Carrow Road in Premier League Two at the end of last month.
"It's interesting, I've not had one question about Aaron Connolly today. Why? Because he's not playing is he?" former Ipswich boss McCarthy said, referring to Brighton's young forward.
"We've got new kids on the block. We've got Jayson Molumby (Brighton, on loan at Millwall), Jason Knight (Derby), Adam Idah, Troy Parrott (Tottenham) has signed a new contract - but just signing a new contract doesn't make him a good player. Playing football makes him a better player.
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"I know what it's like making your debut for your country, and I know what it's like making your senior debut in a competitive game. It's nerve-racking. I think you need some game time. I get that everybody would like to see me picking all these lads, but it's not going to happen.
"Somebody could come right out of the pack and you go, 'hold on', and he knocks everybody out. But, it's not really a game for (debutants). It's a game for hard-nosed pros."
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Those comments suggest Idah will remain with the U21s for two qualifiers in March, at home to Iceland and away to Luxembourg.
City's academy product has been a key player for U21s boss Stephen Kenny - who is lined up as McCarthy's senior successor for after Euro 2020 - with the Irish youngsters top of group one and on course to qualify for the 2021 U21 Euros in Hungary and Slovenia.
"You know I'm loyal to players and I always have been," McCarthy added, speaking to Irish radio station RTE 2FM.
"I'm loyal to players who give everything, want to come in, want to turn up, whether they're playing or not they still come and make training sessions good. We all know who they are. I know who they are, and I give loyalty to them.
"Look if they play two or three games and they don't play well or they're not good when they come in to the squad, I wouldn't be loyal to them. But we don't get in for much time to change it. We've got four days to prepare for this game against Slovakia."
Idah was reportedly wanted by clubs including Championship side Charlton and League One club Doncaster during the January transfer window but head coach Daniel Farke opted to keep him as his third choice striker, rather than bring in a fresh face.