Everton are unhappy with their midfielder James McCarthy after he aggravated a hamstring injury by declaring himself fit for the Republic of Ireland.
McCarthy was removed from the starting line-up just minutes before Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Wales and now faces several more weeks out.
An already fraught relationship between Ronald Koeman and the Irish coaching staff has been further tested, but the Dutchman is understood to be unimpressed with the player as much as those who selected him.
McCarthy was urged to be responsible decision when he joined his country, particularly as he missed the previous two Everton games with the same hamstring problem.
The 26-year-old has completed 90 minutes just twice all season as he has been plagued with muscle problems.
That injury history ensured McCarthy travelled to Dublin with a warning to be careful, especially as Koeman is short of midfielders following an injury to Morgan Schneiderlin. Had he remained on Merseyside, Koeman’s medical staff were confident with more rehabilitation and training he would have been fit for this weekend’s Merseyside derby. Instead, the needs of his country have been prioritised.
McCarthy declared himself available for Ireland with manager Martin O’Neill pointedly remarking prior to the Wales game that the player was ‘desperate’ to be involved.
Koeman has not held back in his criticism of how McCarthy has been handled during the course of this season, leading to a tit-for-tat row with O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane.
A player is obliged to join his national team when called up and may feel under pressure to play if asked by the manager. But evidently O’Neill was suitably convinced of McCarthy’s fitness and determination to start following several training sessions.
Earlier this season, Koeman said he understood the conflicting pressures a player can be under from his club and national coach, but ultimately he should focus on being 100 per cent fit before accepting a call-up.
In October, Koeman said: “I would like to have more commitment from the player of Everton because we pay the player.”
Later he remarked: “It’s always difficult because the player is between Ireland and Everton. But first you must do the best for your club.
“We spoke about what I want and what he wants. I think the player likes to play for Everton and play good for Everton. It starts with Everton. The first thing that is best is to first be fit.”