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Sunday 18 November 2018

Tragic timing for James - Allardyce rues loss as Ireland ace McCarthy is out for the season

The horrific moment when James McCarthy suffered his double leg break. Photo: REUTERS
The horrific moment when James McCarthy suffered his double leg break. Photo: REUTERS

There is clearly no such thing as a good time to suffer a double leg fracture, but the fact that James McCarthy was, finally, finding his feet and his form before Saturday's leg break makes his absence even harder to take.

Unlike the anger directed at opposing player Neil Taylor when he broke the leg of one of Everton's Ireland internationals, Seamus Coleman, while on international duty last year, there was nothing but sympathy for the player who caused the injury for McCarthy on Saturday.

Even Everton boss Sam Allardyce knew that West Brom midfielder Salomón Rondón had not intended to hurt McCarthy when the pair challenged for the ball just after the hour mark in the 1-1 draw between the teams.

And Rondon stated afterwards just how the incident had affected him.

Devastated

"I am absolutely devastated after such an unfortunate incident," said Rondon.

"I feel really sorry for James. Rivalries are forgotten about when a colleague suffers such an unlucky injury.

"Even if the move had resulted in a goal, I would have preferred not to score if it meant an opponent avoided suffering such a terrible injury.

"I wish James a speedy recovery and hope to see him back playing again soon."

Just like that Ireland-Wales game last March, when Coleman was stretchered off, the time that passed after the injury was almost an irrelevance, league points relegated in terms of importance due to the seriousness of McCarthy's injury.

Even though the next Ireland game of consequence is not for another seven months, McCarthy's loss could be felt at international level as there's no guarantee McCarthy will be fit when the new UEFA Nations League kicks off in September.

Coleman has been unable to play for the last 10 months and there's still no date set for his return to first-team action.

Compatriot Alan Judge suffered a similar injury, double leg break while playing for Brentford against Ipswich in April 2016. It would be 20 months before the Dubliner played a competitive game again and Judge is still trying to get back to the levels he was at before the fracture.

Everton's local newspaper pointed that the recovery from a double leg break is hard to predict: Luke Shaw suffered the injury and did not play for a year, Aaron Ramsey managed to be back playing eight months later.

The club's medical staff will issue an update this week, but there's no doubting the seriousness of the injury.

"It's a tib and fib fracture and compounded as well. It's a nasty one," Allardyce said.

"He was getting sharper and sharper and fitter and fitter with every game.

"We'll do it (operation) as quickly as we possibly can. I think it very much depends on the specialist or surgeon that deals with it.

"The tib and fib are broken and it's because of his really brave efforts to try to stop West Brom's possible goalscoring opportunity.

"He's paid a heavy price for his commitment there. He's missed so many games and we'd actually thought we'd overcome the little problems he'd been having and he's been playing regularly.

"Now this is one serious injury that we know will keep him out until next season at some stage and it's a big blow.

"All of us wish James well and hope that he will recover as quickly as possible."

Martin O'Neill and his backroom staff will give McCarthy time and space this week before meeting up with the midfielder.

But the Rep of Ireland manager, due to sign his two-year contract extension with the FAI today, will see McCarthy's injury as a blow, the latest in a long line of Ireland players currently crocked.

McCarthy made just two appearances in the 12-game qualifying campaign for the World Cup and his persistent absences, necessitated by injury, have been a frustration for the current Ireland manager.

Consequence

His recent career has been blighted by injury - a consequence, it's felt, of the sheer physical pressure on a body which began playing first-team football, with Hamilton, when he was just 16.

But McCarthy had been in full health in the Everton side and in good form in the weeks building up to Saturday's painful incident.

Still only 27, and under contract with Everton until 2020, the lead into Euro 2020 could have, and should have, been a time for the Glasgow boy to shine.

Instead, he has to try to work on his health before his career can take centre stage again.

A terrible pity for player, club and country.

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