Everton boss Ronald Koeman has reignited his war of words with Martin O’Neill after James McCarthy was called up for Republic of Ireland duty despite not being fit.
The midfielder was included in O’Neill’s provisional squad for Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Austria later this month even though he has been sidelined with a hamstring tear.
O’Neill’s decision comes almost a month after Koeman accused Ireland of “killing” the midfielder during the last international break by having him play almost the entirety of their matches with Georgia and Moldova despite lacking fitness.
McCarthy’s first competitive outing since groin surgery in September came in the win over Georgia, but Koeman was upset he was “overloaded” across the two games.
He made a substitute’s appearance against Manchester City immediately after that international round of fixtures, but has not featured for his club since.
That has not stopped O’Neill calling him up for the upcoming clash in Vienna, though, much to Koeman’s frustration.
“The player is not fit,” he told a media conference on Thursday. “The player is not involved in team sessions.
“To have a call-up he needs to be close. It’s a little bit the same story as last time.
“I advised James to stay here, train and be fit as soon as possible.
“It’s always difficult because the player is between the club and between Ireland. But first of all you have to do what’s best for his club, and if you are fit then you do your best for your nation.”
While McCarthy – like Leighton Baines – looks set to miss Everton’s trip to Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend, there is better news on goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
“Stekelenburg, yes he’s back. He’s ready fit to play,” Koeman confirmed.
“Baines is not, he’s close but we don’t take any risk because after the weekend we have the international break.”