Everton manager Roberto Martinez has dismissed as “nonsense” Roy Keane’s suggestion the club over-state players’ injuries before they report for international duty.
The Republic of Ireland assistant boss claimed midfielder James McCarthy and team-mate Seamus Coleman were put under pressure by Everton to protect themselves on international duty and that the Toffees always gave the impression players were “barely able to walk”.
Martinez rejected the accusations and said nothing was further from the truth.
“It is completely nonsense. We have a good relationship with (Republic manager) Martin O’Neill and we keep in touch frequently and share information,” the Toffees boss said.
“We are always very proud when our players represent their countries, and the record shows that.
“Every player at our club is desperately proud to represent their countries.
“A lot has been said – a lot is nonsense. The reality is the conversation between managers of the associations and ourselves has been good and will continue to be.
“The only thing I care about is the players, and we had four players in the Republic of Ireland squad who are incredible characters who just love to play for their country.
“It is disappointing when you see some ’news’ that could put that in doubt.
Roberto Martinez today - go to 13 minutes for discussion of Roy Keane comments
“All the fans in the Republic of Ireland and other nations should know these players will give their lives to represent their countries and that is something we are very proud of.
“Seamus, Darron (Gibson), James and Aiden (McGeady) have been extreme professionals and that is something we will carry on seeing.”
McCarthy was sent home from international duty without playing a match after the Republic’s medical team decided not to risk the midfielder’s hamstring problem.
Left-back Leighton Baines sustained a similar injury on England duty, and he and McCarthy are both doubts for Saturday’s visit of West Ham.
“James picked up a grade-one hamstring injury against Sunderland and we are assessing him, but we have a bit more time than with Leighton in that we have an extra seven days but we will see how he recovers,” added Martinez, who said Baines was “touch and go” for the weekend, with midfielder Gareth Barry highly unlikely to feature after injuring ankle ligaments at Sunderland.