MARTIN O’NEILL HAS defended his right to select James McCarthy for Ireland’s last two World Cup qualifiers, despite being criticised by Everton manager Ronald Koeman.
O’Neill started the Toffees midfielder in both of Ireland’s games, despite the 25-year-old not playing for his club since the end of August after suffering a groin injury.
But Koeman expressed his dismay during yesterday’s press conference saying McCarthy has been “massively overloaded” by the national team and accused O’Neill of “killing” the player.
“I have been involved in club and international management for a considerable time and I take exception to the remarks made,” O’Neill told The Irish Daily Mail.
“I have the utmost regard for the Republic of Ireland medical team who are as good as any in Europe. James played in our home game against Georgia last Thursday, and came through the match with no ill effects.”
“Accordingly, he started the game against Moldova last Sunday,”O’Neill continued.
“Naturally, he tired in the second half and was substituted, but not through injury. I believe he trained with Everton today and is available for selection if required this coming weekend.”
Everton travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon to face Manchester City as the Premier League returns with the Glasgow-born player needing a late fitness test before Koeman makes a decision on his inclusion.
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