Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Elliott in Frame for Ireland

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Elliott in Frame for Ireland

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Mick McCarthy will not allow Stephen Elliott's fitness problems to jeopardise his promising international career after giving the Sunderland striker his blessing to join up with the maiden international squad of Steve Staunton's reign, writes Paul Gilder.

The 22-year-old made his comeback for the Black Cats' reserves this week, but, having missed almost four months of football with a serious back injury, he has little chance of featuring tomorrow when the Wearsiders resume their disastrous Premiership campaign at Birmingham.

Elliott's absence has not dissuaded Staunton from including the Dubliner in his plans for next week's friendly against Sweden at Lansdowne Road and although McCarthy has agreed to let the player travel ostensibly to meet his new manager, he admitted last night there is a chance he could feature in the game.

But, having spoken at length to a coach he knows well from his own international stewardship, the Sunderland boss has told Staunton that he must take no chances with a fragile footballer.

"Stephen might benefit just from going over there and being there," said McCarthy, who suffered a new blow on the injury front last night as it emerged that Stephen Wright's season could be over as the result of an ankle problem.

"It is great for (Elliott) that he has been selected, especially having been out since November, and it will be nice for him to travel over and to be involved and to see everyone. It might give him a lift having been out for such a long time.

"I have spoken to Steve and I think it's important that, when a new manager comes in, the players go out and see him. He isn't going there to play 90 minutes because he's not fit enough, it won't happen. But if he is fit enough, he might take part in the game."

Elliott played for 45 minutes against Aston Villa's second string at Durham on Wednesday evening. …

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