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McCarthy crocked

ANOTHER game, another James McCarthy ankle injury. It's almost as if the football fates have chosen to keep him away from Ireland.

This time there doesn't appear to be any issue over the nature of the injury, although the extent is still not known, and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was at pains to observe the proprieties after McCarthy was chopped down early in a friendly win over Spanish side Villareal.

"We had a little bit of a scare today with James McCarthy's knock," Martinez said. "We'll assess that over the next 24 hours.

"It wasn't too pretty in the manner he went down in the challenge. I felt that it was a ruptured ligament -- remember, James had some trouble in that ankle before and that was the scary part.

"It seems it's a twisted ankle. I don't think it's a fracture of the ligament or any structural damage in the ankle so that's positive.

"It's good news but we'll assess it over the next 24 hours because it's swelled up at the moment but we'll see how he is tomorrow."

Martinez even held out the vague possibility that McCarthy might yet turn up in Dublin, although the FAI's version of events suggests that the player is definitely out of the game against Croatia at the Aviva Stadium.

"We are 50/50 at this present time. I don't know whether he will be able to join the Irish camp. We'll make sure we let them know, he'll have some scans. But he's fine and hopefully it's just a twisted ankle. I think it's going to be difficult for him to play on Saturday never mind on Wednesday."

McCarthy is just one of a dozen withdrawals and when a preliminary squad is whittled down by over a third to 20 names in such circumstances, it should raise a welter of questions about the point of scheduling an international fixture date just three days before the Premier League kicks off.

But despite losing so many from his original squad, Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli will not be too displeased by the range of talents still available for Wednesday's important Euro 2012 warm-up against the Croatians.

"We have three midfielders -- McCarthy, (Glenn) Whelan, (Darron) Gibson," said Tardelli with a shrug before news about McCarthy's ankle knock filtered through.

"In September, we'll have two very important matches and this is a very important test. But we have many injuries. A lot of injuries. Obviously, the players are still in pre-season training. I don't know why, always, the Irish players are injured. I don't know. We have a problem. We know that the players aren't very fit. We will try," said Tardelli with another expansive shrug.

"We will play against Croatia. You know the names, they have (Luka) Modric, (Nico) Krancjar, (Eduardo da) Silva, (Ivica) Olic. It will be a very tough match. We have to make do with what we have. And the players who are here."

Both Jon Walters and Marc Wilson, who shared the unflattering limelight with McCarthy in May, are both major injury doubts, as is Kevin Doyle, but all three will show up for an assessment and, according to Tardelli, Trapattoni's rules were followed to the letter.

"Everything went well," Tardelli said.

"Everything is good. Walters, will come here. Wilson shared a call with Giovanni. Maybe it's important that Giovanni said this."


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