Martin O'Neill hits back at Ronald Koeman over James McCarthy injury
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 01/04/17 3:12pm
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has hit back at Everton boss Ronald Koeman in their ongoing war of words over the treatment of midfielder James McCarthy.
McCarthy pulled up with a recurrence of a hamstring problem in the warm-up ahead of Ireland's 0-0 draw with Wales on March 24.
Koeman was angry that McCarthy, who had been out for three weeks beforehand, was selected to start after training for only two days with the national team and he expanded on those views in a press conference on Friday.
And O'Neill has responded to those comments in a strongly-worded statement released by the FAI.
O'Neill said: "Once again the Everton manager, master tactician of the blame game, has struck out in his comments today, criticising both myself and James McCarthy.
"Perhaps a review of Everton's pre-season programme might provide some enlightenment.
"James had a magnificent tournament for the Republic of Ireland last summer during UEFA EURO 2016, 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?
"It should be added that James last played for his country on October 9, 2016 - almost half a year ago. Since that time he has been totally under Everton's supervision.
"James is diligent and conscientious in his professional preparation.
"Perhaps, in this instance, quiet introspection may serve the Everton manager and his medical staff better."
Toffees boss Koeman, whose side face Liverpool at Anfield at 12.30pm on Saturday, later tweeted a response to the statement from his official account @RonaldKoeman.
James McCarthy began his pre-season three and a half weeks after Ireland were knocked out of the Euros. From the master tactician— Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) March 31, 2017
It is not the first time Koeman and O'Neill have had a difference in opinion and it is understood that the Ireland boss tried to contact Everton's counterpart on several occasions before Christmas, but the calls were left unreturned.
Behind the scenes, the FAI is frustrated by what they see as Koeman's unwillingness to talk to them, while the Dutchman has been willing to discuss his concerns with the media.
Koeman is preparing for Saturday's Merseyside derby against Liverpool, live on Sky Sports 1HD, without three of his key players who were injured on international duty, with Argentina's Ramiro Funes Mori and Ireland's Seamus Coleman also sustaining injuries.