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McCarthy sticks by Ireland call

WIGAN star James McCarthy has dismissed suggestions that he's about to turn his back on Ireland to take a chance with his native Scotland.

But Ireland could lose the services of one Scottish-born player as former Celtic man Jim O'Brien, the Ireland U21 cap now at Motherwell, says he will consider an offer to declare for his native Scotland after four years in the Irish set-up.

Some Irish fans were fearing that Wigan man McCarthy, who was born in Glasgow but opted to play for the Republic at underage level and has won five U21 caps, would go back on his decision to represent Ireland, as Craig Levein, the newly appointed manager of Scotland's senior side, revealed earlier this month that he'd made an approach to McCarthy, with a view to tempting the highly rated player back to Scotland.

But today McCarthy has made it clear that he has no intentions of a change. "I don't intend to drag this subject out again," McCarthy said. "There was some speculation about me changing my mind but I really don't want to get caught up in all this again.

"Gary Caldwell has had a couple of words in my ear since he joined us from Celtic but I've made my choice to play for Ireland and I'll be sticking with it."

Only last week, Giovanni Trapattoni appealed for the media and supporters to back off from McCarthy and allow the youngster to develop his career free from the massive pressures of an international tug-of-war.

But it's thought that Trapattoni will repay the midfielder's loyalty by naming him in the senior squad for next month's friendly against Brazil in London.

McCarthy, who made his first team debut for Hamilton when he was only 16, had a tough time after he joined Wigan from Hamilton in a £1.5m deal last summer and at one stage he was linked with a loan move back to the SPL.

But he has established himself in the Wigan side under Roberto Martinez in recent weeks and has scored two goals in 10 games for the club.


There was a degree of satisfaction in FAI circles when O'Brien committed himself to the Irish cause and he made his Irish debut in an U19 game in October 2005. Overall he won seven youth caps and also played 11 times for the Irish U21s.

But he has not been involved with the international side at any level since appearing in an U21 game against England in February 2008 and he is now considering a switch to Scotland, after new Scotland boss Craig Levein reached out to a number of players who were still eligible for the Scots despite playing for other countries.

"The Scotland manager has contacted the agents of a number of players who are eligible to play for Scotland. It is now something I have to think about," said O'Brien.

The 22-year-old made two appearances for Celtic and also had a loan spell at Dunfermline before joining Motherwell in 2008.