Mick McCarthy says Aaron Connolly starting for Republic of Ireland in Switzerland is no gamble

Mick McCarthy insists starting Aaron Connolly in the Republic of Ireland’s European Qualifier in Switzerland on Tuesday would not be a risk.

The 19-year-old Brighton striker scored twice in their 3-0 win over Tottenham before the international break and won his first cap off the bench as he came on for the final 11 minutes of their 0-0 draw in Georgia on Saturday.

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But asked at his pre-match press conference at the Stade de Geneva if it would be a gamble to start him against the Swiss, McCarthy said: “Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

“Asking me would I risk him, there’s some suggestion that there is. I don’t think there is.

“He’s now made his debut. He had a cameo and did well in it and I think he will be feeling comfortable about himself, so no, I don’t think it would be a risk at all to start him.”

McCarthy did admit, however, that he would not use the teenager as a lone striker, the role Luton’s James Collins took on in Tbilisi.

“I wouldn’t want him to be isolated up there, that’s for sure,” added McCarthy.

“They play three at the back and I think putting Aaron into that, if I decided to do it, putting him up on his own would be a big ask I think on his first full start.”

McCarthy was asked about his possible team selection on a number of occasions and McCarthy took exception when one journalist asserted that Connolly would start in Geneva.

“If you can deduce that from my tone of voice and how I look, then fair play to you,” said McCarthy.

“I might just drop him to spite you now.”

As for Switzerland, McCarthy believes they were the best team against Denmark at the weekend, despite the Scandinavian side claiming a 1-0 win in Copenhagen.

“I watched the game the other night and Switzerland were excellent. They were the best team,” he concluded.

“[Kasper] Schmeichel made three world-class saves to keep them in the game.

“Denmark had a goalkeeper who made three world class saves. Denmark then had a player who picked a pass, who is capable of picking that pass, and that is why Real Madrid have been after him – [Christian] Eriksen.

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