James McCarthy
James McCarthy has yet to play at all so far this season for Everton Jan Kruger/Getty Images


  • O'Neill potentially on another collision course with Toffees boss Ronald Koeman over injury-plagued midfielder.
  • McCarthy is yet to play for Everton this season due to a knee problem.
  • Roy Keane confirms 26-year-old completed 70% of a training session in Dublin on Tuesday morning.

Martin O'Neill could be set to reignite his long-running feud with Everton counterpart Ronald Koeman after declining to rule Toffees midfielder James McCarthy out of the Republic of Ireland's final pair of crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales respectively.

Scottish-born McCarthy was once again called up for international duty last month as O'Neill named a large provisional squad for matches in Dublin and Cardiff and found himself retained in the final 30-man group confirmed on Monday (2 October).

That is despite the fact that the injury-prone 26-year-old has yet to play any senior football for Everton in 2017-18 owing to a knee problem originally suffered in July.

"He doesn't want to be ruled out at the moment. We'll have to really look at that very, very carefully and see how he is," O'Neill was quoted as saying at a press conference by Sky Sports.

"He has trained now for quite a number of days and he has joined in with the first team at Everton as well, so we'll see how he is and take it on a day-to-day basis."

Last week Koeman warned McCarthy, who looks set to feature for Everton's Under-23s over the coming weeks after his manager claimed he was struggling with his fitness, not to take any unnecessary risks. He also called for good communication with the club's medical staff and understanding from the Irish camp.

"I would have thought that given the amount of time that James has been out [with his knee injury] which he picked up at club level, that Everton would be quite pleased that he is out of the environment for a little while," O'Neill countered, per The Times.

"Of course I have to take into consideration that he has not played for some considerable time. He's a naturally fit-enough lad but that is a definite concern. I wouldn't want to be committing at this minute to a decision about playing him but he looks pretty good and has had no ill-effects to the injury for ten to 12 days.

"If James feels OK then the question is really about the amount of game-time he could get through, as he's had very little action since July. James, at his sharpest, has been excellent."

Keane update

Providing a further update on Tuesday afternoon, Ireland assistant boss Roy Keane told the media that McCarthy reported feeling "okay" after completing 70% of the latest training session held at the FAI's National Training Centre.

O'Neill did not consult with Koeman over McCarthy's latest inclusion, with the pair having memorably engaged in more than one previous public war of words regarding the former Wigan Athletic midfielder. Koeman was left furious back in March after his player aggravated a hamstring injury during Ireland training having already been dealing with a groin complaint.

Ireland are without Seamus Coleman and Jon Walters this week, while the likes of Shane Long, David McGoldrick, Harry Arter, Eunan O'Kane and Jonny Hayes have also been dealing with knocks. Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood has been ruled out with a rib problem and veteran striker Kevin Doyle recently retired in order to avoid further concussions.