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Coyle: McCarthy has got the lot as a midfielder

OWEN Coyle has tipped James McCarthy for greatness and believes that he is right up there among the top rank of midfielders in the Premier League now.

Coyle was in Dublin to help launch Newstalk's Premier League coverage for the season ahead and took time out to talk about the player he sold to Everton 10 minutes before the transfer deadline a year ago.

"I've known James McCarthy since he was a kid, I'm from the Gorbals and his family is from Castlemilk just up the road," said Coyle. "So I knew him all the way through his development as a player and everything else.

"He was desperate to stay in the Premier League and I had absolutely no issue with that. I gave him my word on the first day of pre-season training knowing that Everton and Roberto (Martinez) would come in for him. 'If Everton come in today and offer the right money, you'll go'.

"He went and he went with our good wishes. He's an outstanding player, an outstanding man and I think he's evolved again. He's playing with good players at Everton and I think he's got better and good luck to him.

"The Premier League is the best product, it's the best League in the world because of the competitive edge and because it has quality as well.

"When you look through all those midfielders - and there are world class midfielders there - James has continued to get better and he's a complete midfielder because he's very good in the air, he's got pace, he can tackle, he can pass, he can run with the ball, and he can score a goal.

"You'll get midfield players who might have three or four of those six attributes. He's got every attribute."

Coyle bumped into Roy Keane at a Deacon Blue gig recently and from the sound of it, struck up a great rapport with the Aston Villa and Ireland No. 2.

"I've been with Roy a couple of times in the last year. Himself and his wife and myself and my wife met at the Deacon Blue concert in Manchester. (Deacon Blue singer) Ricky Ross is a pal of mine and Roy knows him well so we were guests upstairs.

"I've got a lot of time for him, he's always relaxed in my company, we get on really well and chat away. And then we attended the Celtic-Shakhter Karagandy Champions League qualifier and, again, had a great laugh and a good chat before the game and then watched the game together.

"But you knew through those chats that the fire was still in his belly for the game. And I think working with Martin (O'Neill), they have different strengths, and both can help each other."

With a foot in both Ireland and Scotland camps, Coyle cannot wait for the two big Euro 2016 qualifiers, which he believes will decide second place in the group. "I think they are very closely matched. There's no doubt with Martin and Roy coming in when it comes to the real deal in terms of competitive matches, you'll see things cranked up a level," he said.

"Gordon Strachan has done a terrific job in Scotland, there's no doubt about it. He's got them re-invigorated. People will obviously make a case for Poland, but for me I think the games between Scotland and Ireland will decide who finishes second."