The news that Glenn Whelan had been released by Aston Villa was met with mild surprise on Saturday, with many expecting the midfielder to be retained by the club for their return to the Premier League.
The 35-year old had played incredibly well over the past few months, winning the hearts of Villa fans (and a place in the Ireland squad) as a result. While he may be advancing in years, having a player of his experience upon their return to the English top flight would have been no bad thing.
One person who wasn't taken aback with the announcement was Ireland boss Mick McCarthy. Speaking at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon, McCarthy revealed he was not surprised by the news:
Not at all. Neither was he, he was expecting it. The older we get, the savvier we get about it so he knew what was going on.
The fact that nobody had talked to him about staying on, and the fact he’s 35 and I know he had a chat with Dean [Smith].
He would be on the bench. Would he want to be on the bench at 35? I don’t think so.
He doesn’t deserve to be, he deserves to be playing in somebody’s team. The two days he’s been here he’s been excellent. Absolutely brilliant. He’s in great shape, he always does a bit extra.
He will go and play somewhere and he will want to play as he will want to prolong his international career. The way he played against Georgia, he was excellent in that game.
Whelan's return to the Ireland squad for the Euro 2020 Qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia earlier this year was widely mocked earlier, but there are far fewer discerning voices around at the moment.
He is in the squad on merit, and looks increasingly likely to play a vital role over the remainder of the campaign. Considering McCarthy's comments here, the player certainly still feels like he has plenty to give.