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everton injuries? pull the other one, roberto

FOOTBALL will expose a spoofer mercilessly when the game moves to high stakes and many livelihoods are on the line. The more a struggling manager bluffs, the more likely it is that nonsense will spill from his mouth.

Such is the way with Roberto Martinez these days and especially on the subject of James McCarthy. He only seems to be able to offer conjecture on the man with the eternal hamstring problem.

After several years of endless contortions Martinez, McCarthy and now two Ireland managers, there is good reason to examine everything he says with a bag of salt handy.

His latest words on McCarthy's fitness and, indeed, a spate of hamstring problems at Goodison Park triggered the latest widening of eyes among Ireland supporters.

"I'm not going to take a risk [against Manchester City] because he's 24 and still growing and I think this season is a time when his tissues need real care," he said when asked about McCarthy.


"There have been two big changes with James this season, one is the amount of international football he's played, and that has brought extra work. The other is he is still growing. That means the tissues are more sensitive. It is important we find a way to help James in the future."

McCarthy has played once for Ireland this season, against Georgia in September. That's once so maybe someone could find a way to help him now. In fact, in the calendar year, his only other contribution to the Irish cause was an hour in a friendly against Serbia in March. He missed, in total, nine out of eleven international games played and three of them qualifying fixtures for Euro 2016.

During the same span, he missed some games for his club but 80 per cent? It's pure nonsense to suggest that international football impinged on McCarthy in any way when it is inescapably obvious that the opposite is the case.

If that's nonsense, it's hard to take Martinez seriously about anything else, including Danny Doanchie, the man who was looking after McCarthy's fitness up until a few week ago.

Martinez has been searching for a reason why his promising track record in management is now being questioned.

One of the big issues facing Martinez and his players before they even get on the pitch is recurring injuries. No fewer than 20 hamstring strains have been recorded in his time at the club.

My colleague Stephen Doyle, from 98FM, favourited a very relevant blog written in midweek, before Martinez dealt with the subject in his weekly press conference, from an Everton commentator called Saint Kirkwood.

He points out that Everton, a club with a very good record in terms of injuries under previous boss David Moyes, have lost the three men who presided over the physio department. Main man Dave Billows left as Martinez arrived and conditioning specialist Steve Tashjian, Everton's Head of Sports Science, followed soon after.

The last of them, Danny Donachie, resigned the day after McCarthy limped out of the game against Newcastle on December 28, three days after he struggled through 69 minutes against Stoke.

This is what Martinez had to say about Donachie: "Danny had been here for a long, long time and he felt it was time for him to move on. I wouldn't say it's the case he moved on because we had disagreements, not really.

"It's like anything in these situations - you need to find answers, you need to work hard, it maybe becomes harder to work every day than others."

Many Everton fans are asking the question whether Donachie resigned because his advice on McCarthy was that he was not fit to play but Martinez needed him and fast-tracked the midfielder to feature.


Our blogger provided a direct quote from an interview Doanchie gave just over a year ago which is unambiguous.

"The long-term health and wellbeing of the athlete is paramount and this always has to be the case.

"All parties will be best served in the long run if this axiom is held true and any attempt to short-cut this process will fail," said Doanchie.

In McCarthy's case, he seems to have been brought back to play against Newcastle too early and his fitness failed.

You can make your own mind up where the blame lies for the fact that Martin O'Neill has seen nothing but James McCarthy in a tracksuit for the first year of his two-year contract as Ireland boss.