Sunday 22 September 2019

McCarthy return comes at perfect time

Everton’s Irish midfielder James McCarthy. Photo: Reuters
Everton’s Irish midfielder James McCarthy. Photo: Reuters
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

James McCarthy gave Martin O'Neill a World Cup boost by making a return to action for Everton last night.

The Glaswegian started in their League Cup defeat to Chelsea and lasted 64 minutes - his first competitive outing since a 3-2 defeat to Spurs at the beginning of March.

Last season was a write-off for McCarthy with persistent injury problems carrying over into the summer. Hamstring problems were the main issue in the early part of the campaign but a knee issue which flared up in July has resulted in his inactivity so far this season.

His place in the plans of departed boss Ronald Koeman was uncertain with club v country rows between the Dutchman and Martin O'Neill leaving the Ireland midfielder in an awkward position.

McCarthy did travel to link up with O'Neill's squad for the recent double-header with Moldova and Wales but the games were always going to come too soon for him.

He had lined out with Everton's U-23 side to build up his fitness and returned to the first team fold just as Koeman's departure was confirmed. Caretaker boss David Unsworth gave the ex-Wigan man his chance from the outset and the minutes under his belt could have positive implications for Ireland with just over a fortnight until the first leg with Denmark.

Martin O'Neill will name his provisional squad in Dublin today and McCarthy will be on the list. David Meyler is suspended for the Copenhagen part of the double-header and a fit McCarthy would be a strong contender to replace the energetic Hull man in his role in front of the back four. There was another Irish angle to McCarthy's return with Chelsea fielding teenager Ethan Ampadu - the son of ex-Ireland U-21 international Kwame. He has spurned advances from the FAI and the English FA to declare for Wales.

Meanwhile, Bohemians continue to make plans for the 2018 season by agreeing new deals with three long-serving members of their squad.

Winger Patrick Kavanagh and defenders Dan Byrne and Derek Pender have signed on for another campaign. They are following in the footsteps of Shane Supple and Rob Cornwall who agreed new contracts on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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