McCarthy adaptability pleases Everton boss

McCarthy adaptability pleases Everton boss

Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes James McCarthy has all the ability to become a complete midfielder.

The 24-year-old returned in February from a six-week injury lay-off and quickly regained the consistency with which he is associated but in recent games has stepped up a level.

James McCarthy scored against Manchester United in their recent meeting.

Recently Martinez has played the Republic of Ireland international slightly further forward, leaving Gareth Barry to man the holding midfield duties on his own, and that has resulted in two goals in his last six Premier League matches having managed one in 65 prior to that.

But despite McCarthy’s increased return in the last few weeks his manager is keen not to put any extra burden on the player.

“James McCarthy is insurance for me,” he said.

“He gives you fantastic balance and in the last six or seven weeks we have allowed him to have a different role.

“He is getting a little bit higher up the pitch. He’s been very effective. It’s something quite new and he is enjoying it.

“James McCarthy is such a talented, young player that he could adapt to anything he wants to be.

“It’s a great strength to have a player like him that can be so flexible but I wouldn’t say we would expect more goals from him.”

McCarthy’s contribution to the side looked like being hampered by a niggling hamstring problem which restricted his appearances in the first half of the season.

However, Martinez believes the midfielder’s issues have been rectified without the need for a specialised fitness programme.

“From a physical and nutritional point of view I think we have found the right formula,” he added.

“Obviously this summer he has international commitments but all he needs is a good period of rest and recuperation.

“There is nothing to be concerned about and everything is quite natural.”

Everton head to Aston Villa on Saturday as the Premier League’s form team after five wins and a draw.

Last season they took 21 points from the final 10 matches and the fact they are replicating those results is a positive for Martinez.

“It is about being consistent with your work on a daily basis,” he said.

“If you look at the players there is a really good balance of being fresh and physically strong enough.

“I think to be able to finish the season strongly is vital as the final 30 points is when you are fighting for what you want to achieve in the league.

“It is very pleasing because it is a real test of the staff at the club and the professionalism of our players and that is pleasing.”

Not so long ago Everton were threatened with being dragged into a relegation battle but those fears were banished pretty quickly and Swansea, in eighth six points ahead, are now in their sights.

“It is an important moment of our season. Tenth is a spot that six games ago it looked unthinkable,” said the Toffees boss.

“At the moment we are not looking at positions in the table, we are just trying to make sure we carry on with the run.”

Villa, FA Cup finalists, are only two points above the relegation zone but Martinez feels their recent performances have not been reflected in results.

“I have been very impressed with this Aston Villa side,” he said.

“In the last six games they have been one of the best teams in the way they performed and what they did in the FA Cup (beating Liverpool in the semi-final) shows an incredible flexibility.

“With the number of points they have I don’t think they have the right to go to places like the Etihad and White Hart Lane and feel they can win the game but they were very unfortunate in the last game (losing to Manchester City 3-2).

“They deserved something out of the performance and to get three points from Spurs was impressive but what Aston Villa are doing at the moment is showing exactly how they want to play, they are full of confidence and it will be a tough game to play at the weekend.”

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Wesley O’ Regan is the General Manager of Popscene in Voodoo Rooms, Cork city. Popscene opened last November and is Cork’s only themed bar that is dedicated to celebrating the best of the 80s and 90s. https://www.facebook.com/PopsceneCork/You've Been Served: Wesley O'Regan, Popscene

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