McCarthy goes AWOL
Ireland boss in the dark after Wigan star fails to show up for friendly
Giovanni Trapattoni is in the dark over the whereabouts of James McCarthy ahead of tonight's Carling Nations Cup tie with Northern Ireland, after it emerged that the FAI have been unable to make contact with the Wigan midfielder since the squad was announced on May 4.
The Ireland manager has been angered by the silence from the 20-year-old, who has reportedly failed to return calls and messages about the end-of-season international gathering. FAI officials have been left to assume that McCarthy is a no-show, although there has been no confirmation that he is unavailable for this week's meetings with Northern Ireland and Scotland, and next week's Euro 2012 trip to Macedonia.
Trapattoni refused to refer to McCarthy by name yesterday in a press conference where he launched a passionate criticism of the attitude which some modern players have to international football.
That outburst began with reference to Anthony Stokes' decision to pull out because he was 'tired' and conflicting injury bulletins surrounding Caleb Folan and Leon Best. It was then that the 72-year-old added that another player "has been called up, but hasn't answered yet".
The FAI later confirmed that he was speaking about McCarthy, but Trapattoni declined a request to offer a specific response.
McCarthy made his competitive debut for Ireland as a substitute in March's 2-1 success over Macedonia, killing speculation that he might switch back to Scotland, the country of his birth.
Sources close to the player had indicated that he was uneasy about the prospect of a circus surrounding a meeting with the Scots this weekend, but the lack of communication has staggered Trapattoni and FAI staff.
On Sunday, he was part of the Wigan side which avoided relegation by beating Stoke. A family source last night claimed that he had injured an ankle on Sunday and believed that Wigan had contacted the FAI to inform them he had gone for a scan.
The issues with McCarthy and Stokes have overshadowed the short build-up to a game which will see West Brom's Simon Cox make his international debut, and also provide a first start for Marc Wilson and Keith Treacy.
Once more, the discourse is dominated by those who are absent.