Toughen up, Roy tells McCarthy
Keane adds fuel to fire in dispute between Eire and Everton’s McCarthy
Roy Keane says that he “couldn’t care less” about the opinion of Ronald Koeman after the Everton boss accused Republic of Ireland of risking the fitness of James McCarthy - and he has suggested the club needs to “toughen up”.
The Ireland assistant has even taken a dig at Everton’s 21-year barren spell without a trophy as the war of words between club and country intensified.
McCarthy - who has missed Everton’s last three matches with a hamstring problem - withdrew from the Republic squad to face Austria in Vienna on Saturday after Koeman urged his midfielder to remain on Merseyside.
Koeman claimed last month that Ireland had “overloaded” and were “killing” McCarthy after he played all but nine minutes of their World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova having missed the previous six weeks because of a groin strain.
Everton believe this contributed to the player subsequently injuring his hamstring and they maintain he has yet to return to training.
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill dismissed Koeman’s claims as “nonsense”, and Keane is not impressed by the club’s attitude towards players representing their country, saying that they instead need to take a closer look at their own training methods.
“We’ve had a problem previously with Roberto Martinez - I think he was slightly over the top,’” said Keane of the former Toffees coach.
“This isn’t a criticism of the players, it is more Everton and their staff, but I always felt their players were going to turn up on crutches or crawling in the hotel door.
“Now it looks like we’re going to have that issue again with Koeman.
“I’m not sure when they last won a trophy, maybe it was a good number of years ago. So maybe ‘overloading’ your players is a good thing, it means you’ve been successful.
“But Everton don’t play any European football, they’re out of the League Cup - Norwich beat them at Goodison - so maybe Everton as a club, their players needs to toughen up a little bit.
“Darron Gibson is Irish. He misses a hell of a lot of games for Everton, and he seems to get injured at Everton. Maybe they need to look at their own training schedule. We’ve never taken any unnecessary risks with players. When managers come out with comments about what we are supposed to be doing with players, it was so far off the mark you would not believe it. So Ronald Koeman’s opinions… they have no issue with me. I couldn’t care less to be honest.’
Ireland captain Seamus Coleman is another on the books at Goodison Park, and Keane went on: ‘They’re lucky to have the Irish lads they’ve got there. Traditionally, Everton have always had brilliant Irish players, doing well for the football club.
“So they shouldn’t be so quick to stop Irish players coming to play for Ireland.
“If a player is fit to travel for a qualifying game - I understand it’s different with friendlies - then they should get their heads around that.
“Seamus Coleman, what a player he’s been for Everton. So why would they try to begrudge Ireland having these players available to us?”
Keane was reminded that he was playing for Manchester United the last time Everton won a trophy following their 1-0 victory in the FA Cup final of 1995.
But he hit back: ‘I was out there, yeah, and they were the luckiest team on the planet that day, they bloody were. We missed about 10 chances.”
Keane also believes that clubs are happy to use the cache of playing international football to their advantage when it comes to valuing their stars, but he says they can’t have it both ways.
“Clubs complain about internationals but any time they are selling these players, you ring up and it’s, ‘Oh well, he’s an Ireland international’ and that adds on a few million,” he added.