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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 16 February, 2019

Martinez has latest word in Ireland's James McCarthy saga

Jimmy Mc has been the centre of attention all week. And he wasn’t even in Dublin for the game with Wales.

Image: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

WIGAN BOSS ROBERTO MARTINEZ says his star midfielder James McCarthy faces “a very, very deep” decision about whether to switch allegiance from the Ireland to Scotland.

McCarthy, 20, sat out Ireland’s Carling Nations Cup victory against Wales on Tuesday as he only recently recovered from an ankle injury and Martinez did not want him to be risked.

That led to widespread speculation that the Glasgow-born player, who qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandfather, could yet switch sides ahead of next month’s Euro 2012 qualifiers.

“I do not know if it is a decision for him to make now or not. We need to give him plenty of time. We need to respect him,” said Martinez.

“He wants to help Wigan. For me that is fantastic. It (international football) is something he needs to think about with his family, with his friends.

It is something very, very deep. But I do not think he has focused on that at all, although it is great to have two nations fighting over you.

“James is probably the most mature 20-year-old in football. It is a compliment to him. I don’t think it is going to affect him. It is going to give him a more arrogant feeling if you want.”

Martinez also told the media today that he had explained the situation to Trapattoni and the FAI. Listen to the audio here:

Martinez on McCarthy situation

The Spanish manager added: “It wasn’t the right time for him to go. He could not have coped with the physical demands. That’s it really. I spoke with the Republic of Ireland staff to make sure they knew the programme James was on.

“When James got injured late in October he was so disappointed he just wanted to get back fully fit as quick as a he could. He told me then he needed to forget his international career and that was the conversation we had.

“If you look at his performance on Saturday, James McCarthy is going to be one of the top footballers in Europe. What a player to have for your country or club.”

Trap door

Giovanni Trapattoni, was criticised for his clumsy handling of the delicate situation. Earlier this week, the Ireland boss placed the emphasis on the player to make a firm commitment.

McCarthy’s representatives later confirmed that the young Wigan man had no intention of reverting to the Scottish camp.

Then yesterday in Trap’s customary morning-after press conference, he poured yet more oil on the flames, drawing parallels between McCarthy and himself and assistant Marco Tardelli.

“We were men at 21. We did not ask an agent to decide for us. He must decide for himself – not the agent,” he said.

Later in an RTÉ interview with Tony O’Donoghue, he seemed to heap more pressure onto McCarthy.

“We cannot force the player to play with us. He is 21 years old. I was a man at 20. I could decide which (club) to play (for). He is a free man, decide. We cannot ask why, why, why. Ask him.”

But as Liam Mackey reports in the Examiner today, the former Juventus manager will indeed ask McCarthy to play against Macedonia. He writes:

Finally, some clarity in the James McCarthy affair, with Giovanni Trapattoni confirming that he will include the Wigan man in the squad for next month’s European Championship qualifier against Macedonia and the friendly game against Uruguay.

Trap admitted when asked that he has not spoken to the player and doesn’t have his number.

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