James McCarthy scare for Ireland
Midfielder lasts 70 minutes in Bern as injury woes return
JAMES McCARTHY lasted just 70 minutes of Everton's eye-catching 4-1 Europa Cup win over Young Boys in Bern just hours after offering a fervent prayer that his injury woes were behind him.
While Roberto Martinez sat back to digest a huge win, and the consequences if McCarthy's hamstring problem has appeared again, his Merseyside neighbour Brendan Rodgers watched Mario Balotelli step from the bench to grab a late winner from the penalty spot against Beskitas while Celtic grabbed a last-minute 3-3 equaliser against Inter Milan at Parkhead.
With six weeks to go to Ireland's Euro 2016 home tie against Poland, Martin O'Neill will hope that time will work in his favour but there is already an ominous sign that McCarthy will unavailable when that date rolls around.
A hat-trick from Romalu Lukaku was the highlight of Everton's win and there was good news for O'Neill when Séamus Coleman popped up to score.
"It was a test of character to go behind to a team in great form at home. When you see us play like that, we get back to memories of last season. In the league we have felt cagey. Europe is a fresh challenge," said Martinez.
"I have always said that Romelu Lukaku is an important player for us. He ticks every box - he is the complete striker."
3SEE SPORT 72: P2-3
Everton's James McCarthy challenges BSC Young Boys Guillaume Hoarau (R) during their Europa League round of 32 first leg soccer match in Bern, February 19, 2015.