Monday 11 December 2017

Martinez hails scoring return of Irish playmaker McCarthy

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

WIGAN manager Roberto Martinez has hailed the goalscoring return of James McCarthy, admitting that the absence of the Irish midfielder has cost his team in recent months.

McCarthy lasted 85 minutes of his comeback in Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa, and marked the event with a deflected goal that gave the hosts a glimmer of hope. His manager is delighted to have the 20-year-old central midfielder back in the fold after the ankle problem that threatened to ruin his season.

"It is quite clear why we missed him so much," said Martinez. "Three months without James has been really damaging, but it is great to see him back.

"He lasted for the majority of the game, and that was one pleasing aspect."

McCarthy's return will put pressure on Giovanni Trapattoni to draft the Glasgow native into his squad for the February 8 Carling Nations Cup tie with Wales. The Italian named a provisional 29-man squad on Monday which included several players struggling with injury.

He is free to chop and change before the squad gather in Dublin on February 6, and if McCarthy has several more games under his belt by that juncture, then it would represent an opportunity to further his international experience a year on from his solitary senior cap as a substitute against Brazil.

Trapattoni had previously indicated that the Carling Nations Cup would be a prime opportunity to give McCarthy another try.

Paul Green will likely figure against Wales, and reports in England have linked the Derby midfielder with a move to Blackpool if Charlie Adam leaves the club before Monday's transfer window.

Meanwhile, Steven Reid -- who has retired from international football -- has revealed he feared his season was over when he damaged his knee in the New Year's Day meeting with Manchester United.

The West Brom man is on target to return after a four-week lay-off and, given his past record, acknowledged he was anxious about the latest cartilage setback.

"I feared the worst, but it wasn't too painful the next day and there wasn't much swelling on it.

"I was a bit nervous going back under the knife. But it was good news and a little trim of the cartilage. Hopefully, it won't affect me too much.

"I try and keep my body in decent shape now I'm getting on a bit. As you're hitting 30 you need to look after your body a little better and hopefully, that has speeded up the recovery.

Irish Independent

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