Friday 27 April 2018

McCarthy dismisses talk of Trap rift ahead of U-21 qualifier campaign

John Fallon

JAMES McCARTHY last night stopped short of publicly taking issue with Giovanni Trapattoni's decision to demote him from the Ireland senior squad to the U-21s.

The €5m-rated Wigan Athletic midfielder was speaking in Sligo, where he linked up with Noel King's squad ahead of Thursday's U-21 European Championship opening qualifier against Hungary.

A common view has prevailed since last week's decision of Trapattoni to axe the Glaswegian from the senior squad that it was pay-back time.

Trap has been critical of McCarthy's disappointing record of turning up for duty in the past year and became especially irate when he failed to inform the FAI of his withdrawal from the panel for the end-of-the-season assignments that included the vital European Championship qualifier against Macedonia.

Several senior players including Robbie Keane, Shay Given and Stephen Hunt waded in with their own disapproval on the non-appearance of McCarthy as well as other 'stayaways' such as Stoke duo Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters.


However, 20-year-old McCarthy insisted he was comfortable in the underage ranks for now despite Trap's failure to promote him yesterday as a replacement for either of the injured pair Darron Gibson and Keith Fahey. Even Kevin Foley, ordinarily a full-back at Wolves, was cited as a midfield alternative by Trap.

"There was just a mix-up," said McCarthy with regard to his absence at the beginning of the summer. "I was injured in the last game of the Premier League season and that was why I didn't come across.

"Things may have been said in the paper but quotes can be taken out of context too. I've no issue with anyone. I love playing for Ireland and I'm happy to be here with the U-21s. I want to win as many caps as I can for the U-21s and seniors. It is my ambition to do as well as I can."

Trapattoni included the former Hamilton Academical midfielder in his original extended squad for the double-header against Slovakia on Friday and Russia four days later, only to omit him from the final 25-man panel.

McCarthy was informed of the decision by U-21 boss King last week, admitting he didn't think twice about stepping back a level. The U-21s follow up Thursday's game with a trip to take on Turkey next Tuesday.

"When Noel rang me last week and told me he was calling me in I said, 'grand, I'll see you Monday'," McCarthy said. "I know a lot of these lads in this squad, get on great with them, and I'm looking forward to Thursday's game.

"There is a lot of talent in this squad and if the guys get the right breaks then you will see a lot of them play Premier League football because they are good enough."

The young Scot arrived in Sligo fresh from committing his future to Wigan in the form of a five-year contract extension. Arsenal and Liverpool were understood to be keen on capturing him, but he's glad the speculation has ended.

"It was good to get it settled because talks had been going on a long time," he said. "There was supposedly a lot of interest but to me that was just paper talk. I've been well used to that since I was a young lad. It's nice to be linked to other clubs. I don't let it bother me.

"Wigan have been good to me and good for me. I've progressed well there and see my future there. We've started well this season and we see ourselves doing well."

Irish Independent

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