Koeman has been deeply displeased by O’Neill and his fellow manager Roy Keane’s insistence on selecting a half-fit James McCarthy time and again, and then continuing to play him, which has aggravated previous hamstring issues a couple of times as well.
O’Neill for his part hasn’t taken the criticism quietly, speaking very vocally in the media about what he called was Koeman ‘bleating’ about the midfielder, and denying that he had ‘massively overloaded’ McCarthy.
With McCarthy’s latest issue popping up minutes before the game against Wales that he was selected to start in, he choose to withdraw citing a flare up in his hamstring pull from a couple of weeks ago.
In November, he was out with a hamstring tear after playing almost two full games for Ireland despite lacking match fitness after being out for nearly five weeks. That drew the ire of Everton manager Ronald Koeman, who was furious with the Republic of Ireland coaching staff for playing him after he had barely recovered from groin surgery, and was very unhappy again with the muscle tear.
While the horrific injury suffered by Seamus Coleman is not something that Koeman can blame on O’Neill, the Ireland manager was asked after the right back’s surgery if he would be having a conversation anytime soon with the Dutchman.
“Why would that be? This happens in the game. At club level I have lost players myself to injuries. Let me be clear on this, I asked to speak to Ronald a couple of weeks ago and he refused to do so. That’s all right, that’s fine. It’s not a problem at all. Séamus Coleman’s injury can happen in the game unfortunately.”
Koeman does have the right to be irritated with Ireland continuously selecting McCarthy when he quite clearly is not fully fit, but some of the fault does lie with the player as well who needs to speak up for himself regarding his own health.
Everton meanwhile will now have to contend without the Irish pair and likely Morgan Schneiderlin as well as they go into the next two games in four days that will define their season - away at Liverpool and Manchester United.