Thursday 14 December 2017

Improving McCarthy could be ready in time for Austria

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with, from left, 8 year old Brayden Adeboye, 9 year old Charlie Dunwoody and 8 year old Emma Sherrard Picture: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with, from left, 8 year old Brayden Adeboye, 9 year old Charlie Dunwoody and 8 year old Emma Sherrard Picture: Sportsfile

By now Martin O'Neill probably doesn't care a great deal about what Ronald Koeman has to say about James McCarthy.

In fact, there's a decent chance James McCarthy doesn't care what Koeman thinks about James McCarthy and for that reason, there's also a decent chance he'll be playing against Austria next month.

O'Neill was reasonably diplomatic but expressed the hope that McCarthy would be in the squad for Austria, despite the fact that he is not involved with Everton at the moment.

"James is not involved at this minute. Funny enough I have left him alone for a couple of weeks but he was making some sort of progress. There's not much more I can say at this minute."

And the Austria game?

"I'd be hopeful," he said clearly not wishing to add any more to a debate which has now been running since Koeman took over at Goodison last summer.


O'Neill's biggest problem for what will be a pivotal game in Group D revolves around much the same issues international managers have to deal with at this time of the year every year.

"If you look at it now, essentially a lot of Championship players who are not involved in play-offs will finish at the weekend.

"If you are talking about our game against Uruguay on the 4th, then we have a game in America and that's fine, we are flying out on the 29th, essentially by the time we meet up on the 28th, on the Sunday evening, you are relying on players doing certain things by themselves," he said.

"With the best will in the world sometimes it is not going to happen. The Championship has been long, so give them a little break if they want to go and take family away for the next 10 days.

"Then we'll do three days' training. That's the week commencing Sunday 21st. It's actually going to be in Fota Island. Some of the players I have spoken to in the Championship are delighted with that."

Shane Duffy is one of his main Championship concerns but the Brighton defender is now fit and ready to play.

"Yes, he's fully fit. I don't think Chris (Hughton) wanted to risk him in the last game or two, there was no real point. He has trained the last couple of weeks pain-free which is great.

"Chris has been delighted with him. I'm sure Brighton will have to try and strengthen as would any side. I think Shane is really up for the fight anyway if somebody comes in, I think it's really great for me to get him into the Premier League."

O'Neill obviously has a lot of time for Duffy and believes that he is much better equipped for the Premier League now than he was when he decided to leave Everton for the Championship.

"I think it was going to be hard for Shane to break through [at Everton]. Jagielka was playing for England, they'd got some really decent centre-halves, so that was hard.

"So for him to move, I wouldn't be apportioning blame to anyone. For the length of time that it would have taken to break through, better maybe for him to step out of it, go down and start your own way.

"That's what's happened and now he has this opportunity to play in the Premier League, I don't think he'll want to waste it."

O'Neill is delighted that long-term injury victim Seamus Coleman has asked him to be involved in the build-up to Austria.

"I don't want to take away from what he is doing with Everton because he is in their hands at this minute but he will be here for the Austria game, and maybe a day or two before that.

"I think the lads would love to see him too," said O'Neill.

O'Neill has not asked Coleman about a timeline for recovery yet.

"Physically I'm not sure about that. It's not a question that I wanted to ask him at the time, but psychologically he's over it now.

"He was understandably down in the first few days and a bit of shock too as the season was going so brilliantly for him at every level and then suddenly to be cut short like that.

"He's never had a really serious injury, just hamstring problems and things like that," added O'Neill.

"That takes a bit of getting over but the time I saw him in Killybegs, he was really positive and that has continued since.

"He is obviously now back at Everton continuing his work," said the Ireland boss.

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