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O’Neill to seek Koeman talks in bid to ease McCarthy dispute

McCarthy returns from international duty injured yet again, but O’Neill is keen to ease the tension

Republic of Ireland v Iceland - International Friendly Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill says he will contact Ronald Koeman in a bid to quell a growing dispute regarding James McCarthy.

McCarthy linked up with the Ireland squad last week carrying a minor hamstring injury that forced him to miss Everton’s previous two matches.

Despite the injury the 26-year-old managed to complete training in the build-up to Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifier with Wales in Dublin last Friday.

McCarthy was duly named in the starting XI but promptly injured himself in the warm-up, forcing a late change to the team selection.

Koeman will understandably be frustrated at Ireland’s handling of McCarthy, especially as he accused O’Neill’s side of “overloading” the former Wigan man when he played back-to-back games against Georgia and Moldova in October.

McCarthy has a history of hamstring injuries and has only managed to complete 90 minutes twice so far this season.

It’s clear a joined-up approach between both sets of medical teams is needed to maintain his fitness.

O’Neill revealed last week that Koeman had refused to speak to him when contacted earlier this month, suggesting this feud has developed into something more than a minor tiff.

However, the former Leicester boss has defended his handling of McCarthy’s fitness, saying:

“James wanted to play and he was fit to play. Let’s put a couple of things to bed. He didn't train the first day, which was nearly understandable. He trained the last couple of days, but he over-stretched in the warm up, felt something, and I didn’t want to take the risk. We were guided by James.

“If you look, he wasn't been with us now for a long, long time. What he does at club level is something that's outside our jurisdiction and outside our control.

“I think that's something he would have to look at, if it is a hamstring problem that he's continually having, that's got to be addressed by him and his club more than anything else. We're trying to pick up the bits of this here, but it's not a fight.”

When asked whether he would be seeking to contact Koeman again, O’Neill replied:

“I'll give him a shout. Seamus Coleman's injury was the most important thing of the weekend. If he doesn’t want to talk, that’s fine, no problem.

“The protocol is medical staff to medical staff phoning each other. I was a club manager and I never once received a call from an international manager about one of my players (being injured). Even though I picked up injuries, I accepted that as a fact, you curse your luck, but I never once picked up a call. But Everton have lost a really important player in Seamus.”