A PREDICTION from Roberto Martinez that James McCarthy had been given the all-clear to have an injury-free season has turned out to be premature as the Ireland midfielder may, worryingly, be missing from Premier League action yet again tonight.
Everton face Chelsea in London tonight but it's likely that none of the club's Irish midfield trio of McCarthy, Aiden McGeady or Darron Gibson will be involved.
McCarthy's season with cub and country has been dogged by injury, as he's started in just 14 of their 24 Premier League ties and has played in only one of Ireland's last 11 games.
The 24-year-old returned to the fray for the weekend Merseyside derby, his first taste of action since Christmas week, but ex-Wigan man McCarthy is again a doubt for the test away to Chelsea.
"James McCarthy, we need to make sure we assess him again because we don't want to give him too much work too early. We need to see if we can get him fully fit before we put him on the pitch again," said Martinez, admitting that winger McGeady was also a concern and is out for the Chelsea test.
"Aiden McGeady is progressing well but he is not going to be able to make the squad. He still has bruising in his knee bone."
Martinez and McCarthy have both been upbeat about the player's injury status in the last week, with Martinez claiming that the club had been able to get to the root of his long-standing hamstring injury, while McCarthy said that new habits, like his choice of footwear, had helped him recover.
"There have been a few changes to the way I do things: boots, insoles and quite a few other things. So hopefully now I can kick on and have a good end to the season," McCarthy said.
With six weeks to go before the key Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland, McCarthy has time on his side but Martin O'Neill would be relieved to see the midfielder get in a run of games before the squad is named next month.
Shane Long and Stephen Ward are also long-term injury worries for Ireland but Burnley boss Sean Dyche says he expects to see Ward - absent since December - back in action by the end of this week.