Saturday 17 March 2018

Ireland's James McCarthy makes first start of the season for Everton

James McCarthy
James McCarthy

David Smith

James McCarthy will make his first league start of the season today as Everton host Swansea.

The 26-year-old withdrew from Ireland's squad to face Austria last week, and today will mark his first start under Ronald Koeman.

Gareth Barry is suspended for the Toffees, freeing up a central midfield position for the Irish international.

Koeman accused Martin O'Neill of "overloading" McCarthy during October's international break, causing the Irish manager to hit back at the Everton boss. A war of words ensued, and Roy Keane also got involved.

McCarthy will face a battle to cement a starting place under Koeman, as summer signing Idrissa Gueye has excelled, and Gareth Barry is a fan favourite at Goodison.

English left back Leighton Baines also returns to the starting eleven after a two-month absence due to a hamstring problem.

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