Thursday 13 December 2018

Fresh McCarthy blow for O'Neill

James McCarthy. Photo: PA
James McCarthy. Photo: PA
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

James McCarthy looks set to miss out on the World Cup play-offs after suffering another injury setback.

The Everton midfielder made his first appearance since March in the midweek EFL Cup tie with Chelsea but he subsequently damaged his hamstring on the training ground and missed the Toffees' loss to Leicester yesterday.

Caretaker boss David Unsworth confirmed afterwards that the Glaswegian faces a couple of weeks on the sidelines.

It's a fortnight until Martin O'Neill's group gather for the Denmark match, and Unsworth indicated that discussions would take place between club and country to figure out "what's best for the player".

"It's nothing too severe. He's had a scan and he will miss a couple of weeks," said Unsworth. "It's very disappointing."

O'Neill went to Stamford Bridge to watch McCarthy make his comeback and the 26-year-old was in the frame for involvement in the first leg in Copenhagen, with David Meyler suspended.

The Irish boss spoke about McCarthy's potential importance when he named his provisional squad on Thursday, but added an important caveat that turned out to be prescient, saying: "James coming back - if he does and he doesn't pick up an injury between now and then - is a big plus for us."

O'Neill was at yesterday's Birmingham derby where Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane figured for Aston Villa. Whelan would be the leading candidate to come back into the side if McCarthy misses out.

The Dubliner was named man of the match for his performance for Villa in the scoreless draw with Birmingham City.

At Premier League level, it was a quiet weekend for O'Neill's leading lights.

Harry Arter has dropped to the Bournemouth bench since the last international window and was unused in Saturday's loss to Chelsea.

Shane Long's run in the Southampton side ended when he was named on the bench away to Brighton - he got a run-out with six minutes to go and is still waiting to end his long goalscoring famine. He hasn't scored in a competitive match for club or country since February.

Shane Duffy is one of the few top-flight regulars at O'Neill's disposal and he played the full game for Brighton.

James McClean was a late substitute for West Brom in their reverse at the hands of Manchester City.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport