Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill took the opportunity to take a dig at Everton manager Ronald Koeman today while discussing James McCarthy.
O’Neill has included the Everton midfielder in his squad to face Austria at the end of the month, but is doubtful as to whether he will actually play.
“I have included James at this minute,” O’Neill said. “Speaking to him, James is improving day-by-day.
“If the game was this week he would be out. He is doubtful for the week after.”
In recent weeks there has been friction between McCarthy’s club and international management, with Koeman suggesting too much had been asked of the player by O’Neill as he returned from injury.
The reaction of Everton boss Ronald Koeman could be interesting after James McCarthy included in ROI squad v Austria.— Philip Quinn (@Quinner61) November 2, 2016
But, despite including McCarthy in the recent wins against Georgia and Moldova, the Ireland boss was dismissive when the accusation was put to him today.
“James had declared himself fit,” he insisted. “He didn’t come off through injury (against Moldova), he came off through tiredness.
“Remarkably, he actually trained with Everton on the day his manager was bleating about it.”
Asked why he thought the Everton boss would think McCarthy was overplayed, O’Neill answered: “I’ve no idea, you’d have to ask him.”
When the issue first arose in October O'Neill also defended his decisions regarding the player, saying: "I've been involved in club management for quite some considerable time, less so as an international manager. I have never played anyone who has arrived and not been properly fit, against their will to play."