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Thursday 14 December 2017

James won't play again this season says Koeman

James McCarthy. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA Wire
James McCarthy. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA Wire
Shane Long. Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

James McCarthy is unlikely to be available for Ireland's next World Cup qualifier as Everton boss Ronald Koeman says he does not expect the midfielder to play again this season.

But McCarthy could force another club-v-country row by insisting on making himself available for Ireland's three-game series in June, finishing with the Dublin date against Austria in the World Cup.

McCarthy has not featured for the club since that bitter spat between Koeman and Martin O'Neill over McCarthy's involvement in last month's qualifier at home to Wales and will not be involved this weekend.

"James McCarthy is still separate from the group. I don't know if he will be available until the end of the season," said Koeman.

"We have four weeks to go and I don't know if we will reach a good level physically to play. We will wait because it's not the first time he is out. We need to wait to see at what time in the season he will be back available."

O'Neill is already without Seamus Coleman and David Meyler for the Austria tie, while Shane Duffy is a major doubt.

The Ireland boss is counting on the fitness of Shane Long after his mysterious substitution last weekend. Long came off the bench an hour into Southampton's 3-0 loss to Manchester City but was then replaced with eight minutes to go as the club's medical staff thought that Long had indicated he was injured.

"It was difficult. It seems that Shane felt a touch himself his hamstring and it seems a misunderstanding between him and the staff. It was a precaution to take off Shane," said boss Claude Puel.

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