Ronald Koeman accuses Ireland manager Martin O’Neill of failing to protect Everton's James McCarthy

Chris Bascombe
The Telegraph
James McCarthy (R) during Ireland training last week - Rex Features
James McCarthy (R) during Ireland training last week - Rex Features

Ronald Koeman’s feud with the Republic of Ireland has intensified with the Everton manager accusing Martin O’Neill of failing to protect midfielder James McCarthy.

Koeman chose to read pre-prepared notes when quizzed on the latest setback to the 26-year-old, a hamstring injury suffered in the warm-up head of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier with Wales.

He blamed Ireland for the injury and also said McCarthy should be more responsible with his fitness.

“I expected this question,” said Koeman.

“James had an injury when he reported for Ireland duty. Our medical duty made Ireland aware. Everton advised extreme caution, not only due to his current injury, but previous ones and our assessment to the Ireland team was that it would be a high risk for him to play against Wales.

WATN Everton

“Of course he has a strong desire to play so when asked if fit, he said he felt he was and was selected to start. The manager in my opinion was not protecting the player. Clearly James was not fit to play. He trained only for two days and broke down in warm up, all this after playing one game from the start in 2017. He had not played for three weeks before Wales. In my opinion he needs at least one full week training to be declared fit, I spoke to James and he needs to take responsibility - It’s not the first time.”

Everton also lost Seamus Coleman with a broken leg for the rest of this season and the start of the next one, although the circumstances are entirely different.

It leaves them short of personnel ahead of the Merseyside derby.

There has been an ongoing disagreement between Koeman and O’Neill regarding the handling of McCarthy.

Last October Koeman said he felt the player had been ‘overloaded’ when playing for his country.

O’Neill responded by suggesting Koeman was ‘bleating on’ about his players and is understood to be furious at claims he ignored medical advice to select the midfielder on this occasion.

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