'He should be embarrassed' - O’Neill insists Koeman must take blame for McCarthy furore
Martin O'Neill says that Ronald Koeman should be embarrassed for attributing James McCarthy's latest injury setback to his involvement in Ireland's October double header.
Tensions are running high between the Irish boss and his Everton counterpart after the Dutchman claimed Ireland had "overloaded" McCarthy by involving him in the World Cup qualifiers. The midfielder had just returned from a spell on the sidelines due to groin surgery.
He is a doubt for Saturday week's game in Austria with a fresh hamstring issue, although O'Neill has included the player in his provisional panel and is determined to give him every chance - which is unlikely to go down well with Koeman.
O'Neill made it clear that he was deeply unhappy with any suggestion that Ireland had behaved improperly by using the Glaswegian after he declared himself fit and said that Koeman should look in the mirror.
He pointed out that McCarthy played over half an hour for Everton as a sub away to Man City when he came back from Irish duty, just 48 hours after his club boss expressed reservations about Ireland's handling of the 25-year-old.
"He trained at Everton on the day that the manager was bleating about him," said O'Neill. "And he played on the Saturday. If I was a manager, I would be excruciatingly embarrassed by it, to turn around and blame somebody for playing him.
"James is in a difficult situation because Everton pay his wages, that's true. I understand that and he's first and foremost an Everton player but when he comes on international duty and if he's fit for selection then he's got a chance of playing.
"He left us pain-free," continued O'Neill, refuting the suggestion there was any link between his two problems. "He's got a hamstring injury now.
"How can you come out and say the player is being killed and overloaded and then you play him on the Saturday, you put him on in the second half? It was nonsense, nonsense. I was surprised about it, this idea that we killed him. He did brilliantly to recover then. Lazarus. Amazing."
"His latest injury has got nothing to do with us," added an animated O'Neill. "I do not play players, never have done, who are not fit. And, in fact, I have actually been so cautious about that there because I was a club manager myself.
"At the end of the day, James had not done a lot of work - that is true - but he trained and felt fine in the games and so we'll play him. If he'd been feeling the injury he wouldn't have played. I think the (Everton) physiotherapists have had conversations with our doctor. I think our medical team were pretty disappointed with the comments that were emanating because obviously the manager would be getting something from their physiotherapists."
It's not the first problem between Ireland and Everton during his reign - Giovanni Trapattoni had issues too - and he didn't directly answer questions about whether he had any plans to speak with Koeman on the matter. They have bridges to build but neither appear to be in a rush.
The frustrated Irish boss also referenced the fact that Everton didn't have much to say when Seamus Coleman's involvement in the September qualifier with Serbia actually helped him back towards full fitness for Everton.