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Ronald Koeman re-opens war of words with Ireland boss Martin O'Neill

The Everton manager is again unhappy with the Derry native’s handling of James McCarthy.

Ronald Koeman (file pic).
Ronald Koeman (file pic).
Image: Martin Rickett

EVERTON BOSS RONALD Koeman has re-opened his war of words with Ireland manager Martin O’Neill.

The pair have had a long-running disagreement over the handling of injury-prone Everton and Ireland midfielder James McCarthy, and Koeman has this week again criticised O’Neill.

McCarthy didn’t play in either Ireland’s vital World Cup qualifier with Wales on Friday, or their friendly with Iceland earlier this week, though he had been due to start the former game before pulling out at the last minute and being replaced by Hull’s David Meyler.

McCarthy has not played for Everton in recent weeks and will miss the weekend’s Merseyside Derby, while the 26-year-old has made just 15 appearances in total this season, including two for his country.

And Koeman claims the initial decision made by O’Neill to start McCarthy against the Welsh went against medical advice.

It was a final decision against the (advice of the) medical staff of Ireland and also against the medical staff of Everton,” he told reporters.

“And there are two people responsible for that.

One is the player by himself. Finally, if he says, ‘Yes. I’m fit’, okay, but even the player needs protection from the manager and, once again, they didn’t give that protection to the player.”

Koeman also compared Ireland’s behaviour unfavourably to Belgium, who did not play key striker Romelu Lukaku in a friendly against Russia.

I was pleased by Martinez that, one, Kevin Mirallas was starting and, second, that Romelu was not starting,” he explained.

“That’s good for us, because he played for 95 minutes in the qualification game against Greece.

You like people to understand… not like Ireland.”

Speaking in the post-match press conference for the Wales game prior to Koeman’s latest comments, O’Neill defended his decision to play McCarthy and explained why he pulled out.

James was overstretching,” he said. “He trained the last couple of days. He was feeling twinges but I thought he was going to be okay.

“There’s a big difference between practice games and matchday when there’s tension.
He was feeling it and was complaining, so I didn’t want to take the risk.”

O’Neill added that he hoped to speak to Koeman in relation to McCarthy and the leg break suffered by Everton star Seamus Coleman in the match against Wales, which is set to keep the right-back out of action for the foreseeable future.

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Paul Fennessy

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