Daily Mail


Koeman and O’Neill trade injury insults


EVERTON manager Ronald Koeman and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill were locked in a furious row last night over injured midfielder James McCarthy.

The 26-year-old could miss the rest of the season, starting with today’s Merseyside derby, because of a hamstring injury he sustained in the build-up to the Republic’s World Cup qualifier against Wales — and the managers blame each other.

First Koeman accused O’Neill of failing to look after McCarthy, then last night the Ireland boss hit back in a statement calling his Everton counterpar­t the ‘master tactician of the blame game’.

Koeman is adamant McCarthy travelled to Dublin injured and that Ireland’s medical team were aware of the situation.

He said: ‘James was selected to start the game by the Ireland manager who, in this instance, was not protecting the player. Clearly, James was not fit to play.’

McCarthy has started only one game for Everton in 2017. The last time he completed TURN TO PAGE 118, COL 4

90 minutes was against Watford on December 10. His season has been wrecked by hamstring issues that Koeman feels began when Ireland ‘overloaded’ him during October’s internatio­nal break. Koeman, who read a statement about McCarthy’s fitness from handwritte­n notes, said: ‘Everton’s medical team advised extreme caution, not only due to the current injury but due to previous injuries. ‘And the assessment by the Ireland medical team was that it would be high-risk for James to play against Wales. But, of course, James has a strong desire to play for his country. So when asked if he was fit to play he said he felt he was fit. ‘He had trained for only two days and he broke down in the warm-up. James must take responsibi­lity, too. This is not

the first time this has happened with Ireland.’ O’Neill hit back last night in a withering statement, blaming McCarthy’s injury problems on his club. ‘Once again the Everton manager, master tactician of the blame game, has struck out in his comments. Perhaps a review of Everton’s pre-season programme might provide some enlightenm­ent,’ he said. ‘James had a magnificen­t tournament for the Republic last summer, playing his last game in very late June. He then returned to Everton after a very short break, but only 11 days later he played his first of three games, all within an eight-day period, against Real Betis, Manchester United and Espanyol. ‘Overloadin­g? James last played for his country on October 9, 2016. Since that time he has been totally under Everton’s supervisio­n. Perhaps quiet introspect­ion may serve the Everton manager and his medical staff better.’ Meanwhile, Tom Davies, the 18year-old midfielder who has broken into Everton’s team this season, is set to be rewarded with a new long-term deal. Steve Walsh, Everton’s director of football, has been in talks with Davies’s agent Neil Sang and it is expected that an agreement will be signed at some point in the next week.

 ??  ?? McCarthy: broke down
McCarthy: broke down

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