The tug-of-war between Everton and the Republic of Ireland over James McCarthy shows little sign of simmering down.
Despite the fact that McCarthy has not played for his club since the middle of October, Martin O’Neill named him in the initial 35-man Irish squad to face Austria on Saturday – a decision which Everton boss Ronald Koeman was patently not happy with.
McCarthy’s injury issues have since meant that he was omitted from the final 28-man panel, but the war of words between club and country has been inflamed further by Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane.
Keane, who was always going to have a dim view of Koeman’s stance, took aim at not just the manager, but previous boss Roberto Martínez and the club’s training schedule as he defended McCarthy’s initial call-up.
Speaking to the media ahead of the side’s World Cup qualifier in Vienna at the weekend, Keane was typically forthright in his opinion, saying:
“We’ve had a problem with Roberto Martinez previously – I always felt the Everton players were going to turn up on crutches,
“They shouldn’t be so quick to stop Irish players coming to play for Ireland.
“(Darron Gibson) misses a hell of a lot of games for Everton… so maybe they need to look at their own training schedule.
“I’m not sure when they last won a trophy, so maybe as a club, their players need to toughen up a bit.”
And as for Koeman…
“I couldn’t care less about his opinions.”
McCarthy’s Everton teammate Seamus Coleman is in the squad, so too is Aiden McGeady, on loan at Preston from the Premier League side.
In McCarthy’s absence, O’Neill could hand a competitive debut to Bournemouth’s Harry Arter, though the manager does have a number of options to choose from.
James McClean sat out training on Tuesday, while Dundalk pair Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle have joined up with the squad having made the final squad on Monday.