Scotland date holds no fears for McCarthy
Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30
JAMES McCARTHY expects a run a gauntlet of abuse when he visits his native Scotland in Irish colours this November but insists that he is not fazed by the prospect.
The 23-year-old and his fellow Glaswegian Aiden McGeady are set to come under scrutiny for the Euro 2016 qualifier on Scottish soil on account of their decisions to declare for Ireland.
McCarthy qualifies through his Donegal-born grandfather and committed to the Irish cause in his mid-teens, although the SFA made attempts to change his mind as he neared the breakthrough at senior level.
The midfielder stuck with Ireland, however, and is used to grief from the terraces after taking a fair bit of flak during his final days with Hamilton before moving to England. He will be dealing with a bigger crowd later this year, but is ready for it.
"I'm looking forward to it," he says. "Obviously there will be boos but that is part and parcel of the game. I had a few years of it playing in the SPL and the lower divisions of the Scottish League.
"I think Aiden is in the same scenario. Some people don't like you, but you get on with it.
"As I say, it's a game I'm really looking forward to."
Ireland and Scotland are likely to be involved in a three-way fight with Poland for the second automatic spot behind favourites Germany.
McCarthy, speaking after being named as the FAI's Young Player of the Year for the second year running, chose his words carefully when asked if he would like to see the Irish and the Scots qualify.
"The most important thing is Ireland to be honest," he said.
"I like to see Scotland doing well but the main priority for me is Ireland qualifying and whatever happens with Scotland happens.
"I'm delighted to represent Ireland and I'm happy to be here, and there's no going back. I got a few messages about it, the odd one winding me up, but it's an exciting group and not just about Scotland. They will all be tough games."
The Everton star is confident Ireland can get across the line and feels that he has benefited from the additional experience at the right end of the Premier League table.
Both Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have urged him to take games by the scruff of the neck, although the Corkman stressed yesterday that people need to be patient with McCarthy and not automatically expect him to become a ranter and a raver.
"I am learning the game on a day-by- day basis and I need to improve," says the player.
"When I get the chance to drive forward, I will. Sometimes the way we are set up at Everton, it's a passing style. There's things you want to add to your game; I want to add goals, and I am still learning."
McCarthy's good friend Seamus Coleman continues to improve and he anticipates that Everton could face a fight to hold onto him this summer.
The Donegal lad is contracted until 2018, but the Toffees may have to offer a new deal to fend off interest, with both Arsenal and Manchester United monitoring his situation.
"He's got everything to be honest," asserts McCarthy. "He's a top, top player and a great lad on and off the pitch. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few clubs come in for him in the summer.
"He is brilliant to work alongside and I'm sure the club will try and sign him up as soon as possible and get him under wraps and hopefully it happens."