JAMES MCCARTHY HAS two ready-made role models as he looks to develop at the top level.
McCarthy was crowned 3/FAI Young Player of the Year on Sunday in recognition of a year when he nailed down his claim as one of Ireland’s first-choice central midfielders.
But the 23-year-old feels that he still has a long way to go and he is determined to learn from one of the game’s greats in Roy Keane as well as from Everton teammate Gareth Barry.
“Obviously I want to improve,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Serbia. “I want to do things better.
“I think I’m still learning from international football. I’ve only got 21 caps and I want to improve on that, I want to get more, and hopefully they keep coming.
As a player as I get older, I’m learning day to day in training. I’m happy to learn. I want to learn as much as I can and I want to improve as much as I can.
“I’ve think I’ve still got a lot to learn from the game. I’ve got to add a lot of things to my game. I’ve got to add goals for a start.”
Barry has been an important part of Everton’s challenge for the Champions League places this season, vindicating Roberto Martinez’s decision to bring him in on a season-long loan from Manchester City.
Working alongside him every day has been a “massive influence,” McCarthy says.
“It’s brilliant to learn from such an experienced pro as Gareth.
“I don’t think he gets the credit that he’s due to be honest. I’m quite surprised that he’s not involved in the England setup but if he keeps doing what he’s doing, hopefully he’ll get the recall.
He gets about, he makes tackles, breaks up play, passes. He’s been brilliant and it has been brilliant to work alongside him.
Tomorrow’s friendly will be another chance for McCarthy to prove his international credentials to Martin O’Neill but thoughts are already drifting towards the first competitive game under the new manager, the opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia in September.
One date already marked in the calendar is the clash against Scotland on 14 November, a game likely to be played in Celtic’s home ground Parkhead.
McCarthy, who was born in Glasgow and was eligible to play for Scotland before declaring for Ireland, knows that he could be in for a frosty reception.
“It’s part and parcel of the game. I had that for a bit when I was playing in Scotland. I was getting a bit of stick week in week out and as I say, it’s water off a duck’s back.
“We’re just going to go in there and give it our best shot.”