Tuesday, March 22, 2011

McCarthy set for Macedonia qualifier

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed that James McCarthy will play for Ireland against Macedonia in Saturday evening’s Euro 2012 qualifying match.

McCarthy, who is still eligible to declare for either Ireland or Scotland trained with the rest of the Ireland squad this morning in Malahide.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez fuelled speculation about the midfielder's future earlier in the week when he claimed that McCarthy would not be rushed into make a decision, much to the bemusement of the FAI, McCarthy and his family.

However, Ireland boss Trappatoni has announced that McCarthy will feature against Macedonia, with a substitute's appearance being most likely.

“I’ve had to contend with this for a few years,” McCarthy remarked last week. “But it has really all stemmed from other people wanting it to happen. I am, and will remain, an Ireland player. I hope to play against Macedonia next weekend and that will put any talk of Scotland to bed once and for all.

“It reached new levels, went too far really, when I withdrew from the Ireland squad to play Wales. It was all above board. I was not long back in the Wigan team after three months out with an ankle injury and I was still taking things slowly as I didn’t want to risk anything. But this became a huge story and all the talk of me playing for Scotland resurfaced.

“My phone never stopped ringing. I’ve never received so many text messages and listened to so many voicemails. It was mental really. I’ve never been so popular!

“Trapattoni flew across to England to see me and we met at a hotel. He wanted to look me in the eye and ask if I was happy and committed to Ireland. I told him I was happy and wanted to play for him. It was a good meeting. We were both satisfied at the end of it. I appreciate the interest from Scotland but don’t want to go back on my word.”

Elsewhere, Centre back Richard Dunne has joined up with the rest of the squad, which assembled in Malahide last night, after staying behind at Aston Villa to continue treatment on his damaged shoulder, while midfielder Darron Gibson, who has a toe problem, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

Striker Leon Best did meet up despite missing Newcastle's Barclays Premier League defeat at Stoke on Saturday with an ankle injury, but he was sent for a swim this morning as his team-mates trained at Gannon Park.

Damien Duff (Achilles) and Seamus Coleman (ankle) also sat out, while Jonathan Walters will join up with the squad on Thursday with his wife about to give birth any day now.