Sport Soccer

Monday 11 December 2017

McCarthy to confirm Irish allegiance

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

James McCarthy is planning to be in Dublin on Monday as scheduled, despite another bizarre statement from Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, which suggested that the player has yet to decide whom he wants to represent at international level.

The latest comments from the Wigan manager have baffled both the FAI and sources close to the 20-year-old midfielder considering that McCarthy met Trapattoni the week before last to give a 100pc assurance of his commitment to the Irish cause.

The Irish Independent understands that the player has been in touch with the FAI to confirm his travel arrangements for next week, and a family contingent are also looking forward to making the trip.

McCarthy was born in Glasgow, but declared for Ireland in his mid-teens. He made his senior debut as a sub against Brazil last February, but could still switch to play for Scotland on the basis that it wasn't a competitive game.

"He (McCarthy) needs to have time and space to make the right decision as he wants to play for at international level," said Martinez, ahead of Wigan's Premier League clash with Birmingham tomorrow.

"It's unfair to try to put him under this massive pressure. I don't expect a final decision unless James is ready for it."

Despite Martinez's assertions, there has been no suggestion from sources close to the player that he has seriously contemplated a switch back to Scotland. In fact, McCarthy appears ready to put the issue beyond all doubt immediately.

He is scheduled to arrive in Dublin on Monday, before training begins on Tuesday ahead of the clash with Macedonia. A friendly with Uruguay follows three days later.

Before that, he must come through the Birmingham game unscathed. Wigan are battling against relegation and McCarthy, who has already missed a large part of the campaign because of an ankle injury, is central to their survival prospects.

The growing belief in Irish football circles is that Martinez is worried that the influential midfielder might incur a setback on international duty and wants him to delay nailing his colours to the mast until the summer.

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