The long-running war of words between Ronald Koeman and the Irish management team has continued this week.
The main focus of this back and forth has, of course, been to do with central midfielder James McCarthy, a player plagued by injury in the last few seasons.
Having been consistently drafted into the Ireland set-up when not quite 100 per cent, Koeman would, unsurprisingly, have rather seen his player rested on Merseyside.
However, for Ireland’s most recent international week McCarthy was once again called upon despite having yet to play a game this term for the Toffees.
Speaking about his selection during the international break, this is what Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane had to say on the matter (via The Irish Times):
“James seems to be getting a lot of injuries at Everton, so I don’t think we’ve anything to worry about in terms of how much we push James.
“To be fair, the medical staff are overseeing all of it and they’re in contact with Everton and all their scientists.
“I think they’ve more scientists involved now than there needs to be.”
The somewhat provocative final remark from Keane above has inevitably been picked up on by the media, with Koeman being asked for his reaction to the former Manchester United man’s comments ahead of Everton’s clash away to Brighton this weekend.
“I don’t know what Keane said about the situation. I’m not interested in his comments,” was the Everton manager’s response.
“The player had several problems physically and we tried to solve that problem. He’s now back. For the first time they did a good thing not to use the player in the state of fitness that he is.
“We’d like to bring him back, he’s a good boy, an important player for us, but we don’t take risks. That’s good for him, that’s good for us and let’s hope he will be totally fit and available for next weekend.”
While Koeman didn’t say anything to majorly inflame the tetchy relationship between the two parties, there’s still more than a hint of bitterness there.
It seems, then, as long as McCarthy continues to play for both Everton and Ireland this situation is only set to rumble on.
With the Toffees currently in 16th place in the Premier League, the former Southampton manager is under severe pressure just seven games into the season while the Republic of Ireland can now look ahead to a two-legged play-off next month against one of Italy, Denmark, Croatia or Switzerland.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena