Everton boss Ronald Koeman fires a warning to James McCarthy after his Ireland call-up
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has fired the first verbal arrows in what could develop into a fresh war of words with Ireland boss Martin O’Neill over his midfielder James McCarthy.
After missing the first few weeks of the season due to injury, McCarthy is closing in on a return to full fitness and he was controversially include in O’Neill’s Ireland squad for next month’s game against Moldova and Wales earlier this week.
That decision was made without any discussions taking place between Koeman and O'Neill, who have clashed on several occasions over the use of McCarthy on the international stage.
Their feud reached boiling point when the midfielder picked up an injury in the warm-up of the World Cup qualifier against Wales last March, sparking several days of feisty exchanges between Koeman and O’Neill that did little to enhance the reputation of the two experienced managers.
Now the old battle lines look set to be redrawn, with O’Neill eager to explore the prospect of McCarthy playing in the qualifier against Moldova at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on October 6th, as he looks to give himself options with both James McClean and Robbie Brady suspended and Harry Arter a major injury doubt with a calf problem.
Yet Koeman will remind McCarthy that his responsibilities need to be to his employer, as he was asked whether he will urge the player to put club before country.
“I expect that from every player, not only McCarthy,” he said. “What I expect from every Everton player is don’t take risks when it’s not necessary.
“When it’s the last game of the season, if it’s a play-off game for the season then everybody understands it’s difficult for the player as you stuck in the middle between your country and your football club.
“But still we pay all the salaries to the players. What I expect from the player is always a good communication between them and our medical staff.
“If they call James for the Irish national team, then he needs to go because that is a FIFA rule.
“But his situation I heard from our doctor is that he can be part of the team for training this Friday. But his last game was in July. I think that answers the question.”
O’Neill suggested earlier this week that he was keen to give McCarthy every chance to play in the Moldova game, but that stance will not be welcomed by Koeman as this enduring battle is set to dominate the headlines once again in the next few days.