THE LAST THING most Irish football supporters expected this week was another chapter to be written in the James McCarthy saga.
The Scottish-born midfielder won his first cap for his adopted country against Macedonia in March.
But, as the Boys in Green prepare for this week’s games with the North and Scotland in Dublin, McCarthy is on the missing list.
Yesterday manager Giovanni Trapattoni – without naming the Wigan starlet – insinuated that McCarthy could not be contacted by FAI officials and management staff, despite repeated calls since his inclusion in the tournament squad.
“Somebody has been called up and hasn’t answered yet,” Trapattoni said. “I will not say that name.”
The FAI later confirmed, according to Daniel McDonnell, that he was indeed speaking about McCarthy. It’s understood the former Hamilton man is ‘uneasy’ about facing the country of his birth in the Carling Nations Cup on Sunday at Lansdowne Rd. The player was the subject of abuse from the terraces as a Hamilton player, due to his controversial decision to forsake the Scottish national team.
But McCarthy’s lack of communication will do little to build a relationship with Trap and the FAI. He played against Stoke on Sunday as Wigan avoided relegation from the Premier League with a single-goal victory. Reports from the DW Stadium suggest McCarthy may have picked up an ankle injury and underwent a scan yesterday.
The latest mystery will cast yet more doubt on the young player’s committment. Club manager Roberto Martinez had previously publicly warned the player to take his time over his international future.
But, before his long-awaited debut in the win over Macedonia recently, McCarthy pledged to be in it for the long haul.
“I am and will remain a Republic of Ireland player and I want to help Ireland reach the Euro 2012 finals,” he said.
RTÉ report that the midfielder will likely miss the crucial Macedonia qualifier in Skopje next month as well as the two games this week.
‘If they are in hospital or they are dead, that is OK’
Though Trapattoni failed to identify McCarthy by name, he had no such qualms about calling out Anthony Stokes. The Celtic striker cried off from the squad saying he was ‘too tired’ to feature in the Carling Nations Cup.
“He is a good player but you must also have will, desire,” the Ireland manager said of Stokes. “Injuries are injuries, but they should visit our doctor. That is the rule. If they are asked by the national team they must go. If they are in hospital or they are dead, that is OK, but if there is an injury they should see our doctor.”
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