Sunday 25 February 2018

McCarthy adamant Ireland have quality to race up FIFA rankings

James McCarthy
James McCarthy
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JAMES McCARTHY says Ireland's dreadful position in the FIFA rankings is not good enough and acknowledged he needs to find a goalscoring touch to improve it.

Ireland dropped to 67th place in the latest list, a new low since the system was introduced, and McCarthy feels the quality of player is there to do better.

He was enthused by his first taste of the new managerial team of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane and is confident there can be a turnaround in fortunes in 2014.

But the 23-year-old Everton star has admitted he must offer more from an attacking perspective. He is waiting to break his international duck after a barren 22 caps, with Keane publicly challenging the player to improve his contribution in that department.

"That (demand) has been going on for a while," said McCarthy, "I'm like any other midfielder, you want to score more goals.

"If you're doing well, the team is doing well and the important thing is to get the wins on the board. The rankings are not good enough and we want to kick on and improve."

While the FIFA ranking system is far from perfect, it does have implications with regard to seeding for World Cup qualification. As it stands, Ireland would be fifth seeds for the 2018 draw if their position didn't improve. They have until the summer of 2015 – when the draw takes place in St Petersburg – to address the situation.

"We know we can be better, each and every one of us," stressed McCarthy. "We're all going in the same direction.

"The gaffer Martin O'Neill has come in and there's a new buzz around the place. And with Roy coming in too, we want to kick up in the rankings and get to big competitions, European Championships, World Cups. That's the main aim of the boys.

"We know we have a good squad. We've got a lot of young boys coming through at the moment and obviously the senior boys will need to help us through. John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane are there to encourage us and tells us what's best, and what isn't."

McCarthy confirmed O'Neill's assertion that the players have taken to the influence of assistant boss Keane, who will be paying special attention to the central midfield department.

"Roy has played at the top all of his life and everyone respects him," he said. "He respected everyone else when he came into the squad. He was brilliant and a joy to work with. I thought his coaching sessions were brilliant. We all really enjoyed it."

For now, McCarthy will concentrate his mind on club matters and he will be watched by Keane today when Stoke City visit Goodison Park.

POSITIVE

Everton aim to bounce back from the disappointment of shipping a late goal in the entertaining Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool, although they've received a lot of positive feedback for their overall performance in that encounter with soft set piece concessions the only real negative.

"We need to try and get back to winning ways," says McCarthy. "Conceding so late in the game against Liverpool – we all know it's not good enough. The manner of the three goals, three set-pieces, we've been working on that.

"We've had a decent enough start but we should have more points on the board. Stoke at home is going to be a tough game, but we need to try to get three points on the board."

* James McCarthy was speaking to launch the FAI's Christmas bundle which is priced at €50 for adults and €40 for children and includes an Ireland jersey plus a ticket to the

March 5 friendly with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium. Details at www.fai.ie.

Irish Independent

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