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Everton boss Martinez will fight off Arsenal advances for Republic star James McCarthy

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James McCarthy will be staying at Everton, according to Martinez

James McCarthy will be staying at Everton, according to Martinez

James McCarthy will be staying at Everton, according to Martinez

HE ONLY played in two of Ireland's 11 senior games in 2014 so it's been quite hard to see James McCarthy in a green shirt of late.

But for Roberto Martinez, the long-term vision of McCarthy is one of him in the blue jersey of Everton and not the red strip of Arsenal or anyone else who covets the midfielder.

The spotlight is off McCarthy this week as he will not be fit for his club's game against Hull City tonight, a disappointment from an Irish viewpoint as an Everton-Hull fixture offers Martin O'Neill the chance to see eight Irish players in action on the one stage, presuming all eight were fit (McCarthy, Aiden McGeady, Darron Gibson, Séamus Coleman, Robbie Brady, Paul McShane, David Meyler and Stephen Quinn).

There was a time when the Ireland boss could go to see Manchester United-Liverpool or Arsenal-Tottenham and see half a dozen of his players involved but of course those days are no more, and it's now 25 years since an Irish player started a league game for the Gunners.

shy away

That could change in the near future as Arsenal have been linked with a move for McCarthy in the next transfer window although the reported price tag of £20million seems low seeing as Everton paid just under £14m for him last year.

It's odd that Martinez had admitted that there has been interest in the player as managers usually shy away from acknowledging any coveting of their players.

But the Spaniard, who has coaxed McCarthy along for some time now at Wigan and Everton, feels that the reported interest in the player is a compliment to McCarthy and his development on Merseyside.

"We rate him very, very highly, otherwise you will never have seen the sort of investment we put in him 16 months ago," Martinez says.

"I'm delighted with his form. He can grow and get better. He's got a long-term contract. I see the interest and the potential interest, and it's a compliment. But James is a player we look forward to see in the Everton top for a long time."

Part of that development with Everton is McCarthy's lack of involvement with Ireland and while the player did have genuine injuries for much of the season, for a key squad player to miss nine of the 11 games in a calendar year is puzzling, especially when - as Roy Keane noted - McCarthy recovered very quickly after missing Ireland duty to proclaim his fitness for his club.

The former Hamilton lad will be out this week, unavailable for the Hull game and the Everton camp will stress the player's deep-seated injury problems such as this one the next time Ireland have a moan about McCarthy skipping an international.

"At the moment it is still too early to tell. We are taking each day as it comes. He has shown good signs over the last couple of days and we will keep an eye on him but I don't think he will be able to make tonight," Martinez said of the midfielder ahead of Hull's visit this evening.

"There has been a little bit of a reoccurrence. It's not a major problem and is down to the amount of games he has had to play.

"He's a young man - albeit he is already very experienced - and we need to find the right formula for him with the training exposure and being able to cope with all the games in such a busy season.

Muscles

"It is something that we want to eradicate. He is a sprinter in terms of the way his muscles are built and you have to be very careful."

Meanwhile, McCarthy's compatriot Gibson will also have to miss the Hull game tonight, another let-down for Martinez.

"Darron has had a very good reaction to his treatment and is feeling a lot more free," added the Everton boss.

"He won't be involved against Hull - it's a bit too early - but I don't expect him to be out for too long. We will reassess him at the end of the week."


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