Republic of Ireland coach Roy Keane has accused Roberto Martinez of putting pressure on Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy in an effort to stop them playing for the Republic.
When asked about the regular absence of two of Ireland’s star players, manager Martin O’Neill was diplomatic but the former United man was far more blunt.
The assistant manager urged Martinez to meet and discuss the issue with them as O’Neill has used both players sparingly in friendly games as he knows the importance of them for both club and country.
Keane is clearly annoyed that neither Coleman or McCarthy played in the qualifiers against Gibraltar and Germany last month, but did feature in both Premier League fixtures after the international break. McCarthy was also deemed not fit to play against Scotland last Friday even though a scan did not show any significant damage to his hamstring. But that seemed to be Ireland’s choice to send him back to Merseyside to receive any more treatment that he may have required.
Keane said: “I worry that he is under lots of pressure particulary from Everton’s point of view. Every time an international match comes around, it always seems to be Seamus and James who are under pressure. They’re turning up or they might not turn up, or they’re struggling.
“But I think Martin has been more than fair when it comes to friendlies. These are big qualifying matches now. Ask most international managers and it’s a difficult role when a player turns up and he isn’t quite fit or he is struggling, we’ve had that a number of times with lots of players.
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“It’s the big downside of international football, you have to be fair to their club and the player, but you also want them out there representing your country. It’s difficult for James as well. There is a player between two managers, I know from experience, they’re under pressure.”
Although Keane is ultimately laying all the blame upon Martinez, he also suggested that McCarthy had to learn to stand up to his manager, as he had to do with Sir Alex.
“It was a difficult one, but sometimes it’s up to the player to say I’m going. No matter what my club manager says, no matter what the scan says, I’m going to try and train. You do know your own body. If there are mixed messages every time he comes over, then it’s up to the player.
“You always get the impression from Everton that Seamus and James are both barely able to walk, that type of thing. So when they turn up and they’re walking through reception, it’s praise the Lord.
“If it carries on next year, it’s going to put a lot of pressure of James. Roberto has never played at senior international level and maybe he doesn’t realise how big the games are for us.”