McCarthy happy to use footballing hero's tips to further career
JAMES McCarthy had Roy Keane breathing down his neck – but the £13m Everton midfielder was quite happy about it.
The Irish squad's training session featured an 11-a-side match and the players were all out to impress new manager Martin O'Neill and his assistant.
It didn't take long for Keane to have a quiet word with McCarthy, who professes himself ready, willing and able to take all the help he can get to become a better player.
McCarthy's talent has been prodigious since he made his professional debut for Hamilton Academical seven years ago, but he wants and expects more from himself.
The opportunity to work under the guidance of O'Neill – a top midfielder in his playing days – and superstar Keane, is a bonus of playing for the Republic.
"It's brilliant. As I say, he's (Keane) a massive influence," said McCarthy. "It's only two days in, but he's given us tips here and there and it's always good when someone who's such a great footballing hero gives you tips. It's a massive bonus.
"He was a massive player and anything I can learn from him, I'll be delighted to take it on board."
McCarthy is hopeful the Latvia and Poland games will give him a chance to impress the new management. "Obviously, we were gutted not to qualify for the World Cup, but Roy and Martin have come in and got us going again.
"There's a real buzz around the place. These two matches coming up are big games even though they're just friendlies. I think we'll take them seriously, want to try and get wins on the board."
First capped for the senior team against Brazil in March 2010, McCarthy has earned 20 caps to date, the most recent against Kazakhstan last month.
He's been a costly purchase for Roberto Martinez at Everton, but is not feeling burdened by the £13m price tag and wants to become a better footballer at Goodison Park.
Said McCarthy: "There's always talk of the price tag, but it's part and parcel of the game and you need to get on with it.
"I want to get better in each and every game, I want to improve and add goals to my game. Everton is a brilliant club and I'm enjoying every minute of it."
There was a time when it looked as if Glasgow-born McCarthy might opt to represent Scotland.
However, his heart was with Ireland and the tricolour stitched onto his yellow football boots is a symbol of his allegiance.
"I've had the boots for a month of two. They're a bit bright for me, to be honest, but I always like the tricolour put on my boots," he said.