'Unfit' McCarthy left to make awkward decision
His international career has been anything but conventional and James McCarthy will face another surreal moment on Monday when he decides whether to defy his Everton manager by assembling with the Ireland squad.
Ronald Koeman's ongoing feud with Martin O'Neill over the past three weeks, compounded by the Dutchman's latest input yesterday, may be entertaining but caught in the middle is a 26-year-old midfielder whose season has yet to get going.
Under pressure to snub a call by O'Neill the World Cup qualifier in Austria tomorrow week over fitness concerns, McCarthy's seemingly precarious status at Goodison Park would likely deteriorate further as the January transfer window approaches were he to ignore Koeman's edict.
Conversely, as well as having Harry Arter hovering to replace him in the Ireland midfield, the Glaswegian won't want the previous question marks over his commitment to the Irish cause resurfacing.
"James is not fit - he is not involved in our team sessions," said Koeman yesterday.
"We spoke to James and our advice is that he stays here and trains to be fit as soon as possible.
"We spoke about what is best, what we want and I think finally the player likes to play for Everton - and to play well for Everton.
"Then of course you get the call for the international team but it starts by playing for Everton.
"I think the player himself learned from what happened last time, with how he was overloaded and got another injury.
"It's best for everyone for him first to be fit and training with his club. Then you're ready for the national team and not vice versa. But the final decision is with the player."