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Martinez backs Wigan starlet to stay focused in eye of Irish storm

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is hoping James McCarthy will be fresh and ready to face Liverpool tomorrow as questions over the midfielder's international allegiance rumble on.

McCarthy (20) sat out Ireland's Carling Nations Cup victory against Wales on Tuesday as he has only recently recovered from an ankle injury and Martinez did not want him to be risked.

However, his absence led to speculation in certain quarters that the Glasgow-born player -- who qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather -- could yet switch sides ahead of next month's Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Martinez insists the injury was genuine and that he does not have an issue with Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni regarding McCarthy, who was withdrawn after he scored twice in the 4-3 victory against Blackburn.

He said: "James has had four games in 12 days. He could not finish the 90 minutes in the last game.

"We sent a report to the Republic medical staff and I spoke with Mr Trapattoni. Everything is quite clear. He could not be involved.

"He needed to have some treatment and regenerate and just be ready for Saturday. They understood that and know exactly what he has been through. James needs to be 100pc to perform at club level and international level."

Martinez admits that McCarthy faces "a very, very deep" decision about whether to switch to Scotland. However, the Spaniard said the player should not be rushed into making one of the biggest decisions of his fledgling career.

McCarthy has made only one senior appearance for Ireland and that was in a friendly against Brazil, leaving him free to play for Scotland if he wishes.

Martinez said: "I do not know if it is a decision for him to make now or not. We need to give him plenty of time. We need to respect him.

"He wants to help Wigan. For me that is fantastic. It (international football) is something he needs to think about with his family, with his friends.

Irish Independent