Bolton Wanderers midfielder Keith Andrews has hailed James McCarthy as 'the future' of Ireland's midfield ahead of the upcoming friendly against Poland on Wednesday February 6.
The 22-year-old Wigan Athletic midfielder was recently named as the 'Three/FAI' Young International Player of the year, and Andrews, who picked up the senior award, described McCarthy as a 'fantastic player'.
"James is a fantastic prospect, in fact he's not a fantastic prospect, he's a fantastic player. He's the future of the midfield, I make no bones about it," he told reporters. "But the manager knows what I'm about and what I can bring to the team and the squad."
The Trotters midfielder is unavailable for the friendly against Poland due to a quad muscle injury. However, he has dismissed the suggestion that he is no longer a 'first choice' player in Giovanni Trapattoni's midfield.
Andrews faces added competition for a central midfield berth with the rise to prominence of McCarthy, as well as players such as Hull City midfielder David Meyler and recent call-up Jeff Hendrick of Derby County, among others.
"I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm not first choice," he said. "I don't know if I was before that but every competitive game I've been available for since I've been in, I've started so if the manager wants to shuffle around things in friendlies against Greece in November it's the right thing to do.
"I'm disappointed to be missing it [friendly against Poland], I cherish every cap I get, but it's one of those unfortunately. I just have to get ready for [World Cup qualifiers in] March."
Meanwhile, Leeds United midfielder Paul Green has been added to the Ireland squad after Meyler pulled out with an injury.