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'I've no need to question anyone's passion' - O'Neill defends McCarthy after Brady criticism

The Everton midfielder may not be as committed as he should be, according to ex-international Brady.

McCarthy took full part in training this week.
McCarthy took full part in training this week.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER Martin O’Neill believes there is no reason to question James McCarthy’s commitment to the Ireland cause after the midfielder was criticised by Liam Brady.

Former Ireland assistant Brady suggested there are doubts about the passion shown by Scottish-born McCarthy during his short international career in an article in today’s Irish Examiner — pointing to the fact that he has featured just once in the current qualifying campaign.

However, O’Neill has backed the Everton man and believes he has fully recovered from the injuries that have hampered his involvement over the past year.

“People are entitled to say what they want,” O’Neill responded. “I wasn’t aware that Liam made these comments but it’s entirely his own prerogative. I don’t think we should be going into the game with a pessimistic approach as I don’t think you will get too far with that.

James has had a few problems with his hamstring and had to take quite a few weeks out of the Everton team. But he is back and he has played quite a number of games in quick succession.

“He had a couple of days to get over it, as did Seamus Coleman, because they played last Sunday and there was a little bit of time off during the week. I’m hoping that he and the rest of them will be okay.”

Liam Brady Former Ireland and Arsenal midfielder Liam Brady. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Although the starting line-up won’t be announced until tomorrow, McCarthy is likely to get he nod in midfield alongside Glenn Whelan and O’Neill hinted that he will feature.

“James has only played one game in one year — against Georgia — so this will be his second time around for us,” he said.

“I have no need to question anyone’s passion for playing for Ireland. I have said that a number of times. It is not just a sound bite, I genuinely feel that. We might not perform as well, but that doesn’t mean that the players don’t want to play. Absolutely not.”

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Ben Blake

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