Kilbane wants McCarthy fit and ready for crunch Poland tie in Dublin
IRELAND legend Kevin Kilbane is adamant Martin O'Neill will need a fit and fiery James McCarthy to harness his midfield for next month's Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.
Troubled by a niggling hamstring injury that kept him out of key qualifiers in Germany and Scotland during the autumn, McCarthy has returned for Everton's last two games, including the battle at the bridge against Chelsea on Wednesday.
Kilbane, capped 110 times, also watched the Scot shine in the Merseyside derby on Saturday, convincing him that every effort should be made to have McCarthy ready for the visit of Group D leaders to Dublin on March 29.
Given Roberto Martinez's careful handling of the Glaswegian's fitness, illustrated recently by his vow to "manage" the hamstring injury, Kilbane feels the onus rests with the player to show up for international duty.
"You've got to look at the big international games as a priority," said the 38-year-old.
"I think some players allow the decision to be made for them. I don't know the ins and outs of the situation with James but I think you've got to take responsibility and show what it means for you to come and play.
"This game against Poland is so important in our group. If it's a big game, as a one-off situation, you make yourself available by taking an injection.
"When I played for Ireland, I saw Robbie Keane, Shay Given and Stephen Hunt taking injection after injection because that's what it means for them to play for their country.
"It's too easy for a player to be dictated to by a physiotherapist. I experienced it at Sunderland - when the physio tried to pull me out of the 2001 World Cup play-off against Iran - and that is still going on at clubs. But, in a player's career, what's bigger than trying to qualify and play at the Euros?"
TV3 football analyst Kevin Kilbane was speaking yesterday at the announcement of the broadcaster's continued UEFA Champions League coverage on Tuesday nights