Hourihane will not play left-back again – McCarthy

Aston Villa
Mick McCarthy saluted match-winner Conor Hourihane after seeing him fire the Republic of Ireland to the top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy insists Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane was only used as a left-back against Bulgaria to give him some game time.

Hourihane earned his 13th cap for the men in green as they beat Krasimir Balakov’s side 3-1 in a friendly in Dublin on Tuesday evening.

The former Barnsley man, a central midfielder for the Villans, struggled on the left side of defence and was replaced by James McClean in the 68th minute.

McCarthy has now lifted the lid on his decision to play the Villa star out of position and it seems as though it was his only option given the fact that the man from County Cork was desperate to get on the pitch.

“It was never an experiment,” the boss told Virgin Media Sports. “He’s never, ever going to play there because I don’t think he can play there. He wanted minutes and he asked me beforehand ‘Gaffa, can I have some minutes?’.

“I said, ‘well not in midfield because there was always going to be the others, but if you fancy left-back?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I do’. He has got a wand of a left-foot. But he’s not a left-back.”

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Hourihane has made two Premier League appearances for Dean Smith’s side this term, starting the season-opening 3-1 loss to Tottenham in north London.

The 28-year-old is much more comfortable in midfield and enjoyed 84 outings for the West Midlanders in the two seasons before their return to the top flight.

He will hope to return to that position when domestic action resumes, with Villa due to welcome another side in claret and blue to Villa Park on Monday as Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United come calling.

The Hammers are seventh in the standings after a decent start to proceedings and it will be another tough encounter for Dean Smith’s Premier League new boys.

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