'Not the best midfield I've seen' - Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy's quip after Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis operates in makeshift role during warm-up game
Supporters are used to seeing Ronan Curtis flying down the wing for Pompey.
The Irishman enjoyed a fine maiden season at Fratton Park after moving from Derry City last summer.
Curtis netted 12 goals for Kenny Jackett’s side as they narrowly missed out on League One promotion.
Although he form dipped during the second half of the campaign, with a freak finger injury partly to blame, it was a highly encouraging first year in the Football League for the wide man.
He was named Pompey’s Young Player of the Season, while he made his Republic of Ireland senior breakthrough.
The 23-year-old is currently away with Eire ahead of their upcoming Euros 2020 qualifiers against Denmark (June 7) and Gibraltar (June 10).
To prepare, Mick McCarthy’s men had a warm-up match with their under-21s before they go away for the Toulon Tournament.
And the youngsters provided a shock by delivering a 2-1 victory.
Yet the senior side were struggling for numbers, with Jeff Hendrick away for a wedding and players who’d featured in the play-off finals only just linking up with the squad.
That meant Curtis had to play 45 minutes as a makeshift centre-midfielder, with Preston forward Callum Robinson also filling in there.
McCarthy quipped it wasn’t the best engine room he’s ever seen.
But the boss feels Curtis and his Ireland team-mates will benefit from the game.
McCarthy said: ‘It wasn’t the matter I had to put the amount of players on, there were four centre-forwards going on, really.
‘They were just playing out of position.
‘I had Ronan Curtis and Callum Robinson playing in midfield with Josh Cullen – not the best midfield I’ve seen in a long time.
‘The real plus point is nobody got injured and they all got 45 minutes of really hard work.
‘The 21s played well and pushed us.
‘It looked like it was hard, it was a tough game and it makes them realise how tough the next couple are going to be.’