Saturday 18 November 2017

Martin O'Neill blasts Ronald Koeman criticism over handling of James McCarthy as 'hollow'

David Smith

Martin O'Neill has once again defended his decision to play James McCarthy against Georgia and Moldova.

The Irish boss also said criticism from Ronald Koeman over the midfielder is "a slight" against the Irish medical team.

The Everton manager had accused Irish management of "overloading" the 26 year old, which led to a war of words between both camps.

McCarthy withdrew from Ireland's squad to face Austria last week, but makes his first league start of the season today as the Toffees host Swansea.

O'Neill appeared on Off The Ball today, and said Koeman's criticisms are "hollow".

"It's very, very simple. James McCarthy came to play for us in games. He wanted to play. He was recovering from an injury, hadn't played for Everton. Of course that's in the lead-up to our matches," he told Ger Gilroy.

"But the injury that he had had healed. That's fine and he wanted to play. I wouldn't put James McCarthy or any other player in the situation where he didn't feel as if they could play, hence him not playing this time with the hamstring injury.

"That was totally different to the injury he sustained at Everton. So he comes to us. He wants to play in the games. I knew that he was going to get tired, certainly in one of the games. But he left us having participated in two games and he goes back to Everton and he's fit.

"In fact, if anything it might have helped him. Then the next thing I hear is the manager [Koeman] saying that we've killed him which is a slight against our medical staff.

"So Lazarus returns immediately on the very day he's talking about it James McCarthy had actually trained for Everton and was available two days later, makes the bench and comes on. So it makes the words that you're talking about rather hollow."

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