herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

ROBERTO Martinez carries the fate of key members of Ireland's and Scotland's Euro 2016 campaign in his hands and so far, we're losing 2-0.

ROBERTO Martinez carries the fate of key members of Ireland's and Scotland's Euro 2016 campaign in his hands and so far, we're losing 2-0.

Scotland, meanwhile, are delighted with Martinez, who is sharing the credit with Gordon Strachan for dangerman Steven Naismith's top form for club and country.

Back in his Wigan days, Martinez showed he has the midas touch when it comes to negotiating around player availability for international games and clashed with Giovanni Trapattoni, successfully, over James McCarthy's involvement in friendlies.

This time around, Martinez's good news bulletin about McCarthy and Seamus Coleman confirmed what the Everton boss said when he claimed that he would use the break to help clear up a lingering injury, in Coleman's case, and "not a real injury" in McCarthy's.

As late as Thursday evening, speculation about McCarthy's well-being was increasingly gloomy.

Now, Martinez claims that both are on the brink of a return to action and it could happen as early as tomorrow, when the Toffees travel to Villa Park. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in Paul Lambert's office if he shares a post-match cup of tea with the Everton staff and his own.

"They're very close to being available to travel with the squad," said Martinez . "If it's not the weekend, I expect them to be available for the Europa League game."

Martinez also made a prediction just before Everton were beaten by Manchester United which offered hope that at least one of the injured Irish players would make it to Germany and that seemed to run into the ground.

Martin O'Neill claimed he had no real clue about McCarthy or Coleman but hoped that they would get back playing for Everton "at some stage".

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