Everton manager and Martin O'Neill at loggerheads over player's fitness
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has issued a response in the row over James McCarthy's role with the Republic of Ireland squad.
Last month, the Dutchman criticised national team manager Martin O'Neill for starting the midfielder in both World Cup qualifiers, stating his belief that the 25-year-old was being "massively overloaded" by featuring in two games despite fitness issues.
A groin issue had affected the midfielder at the start of the season.
O'Neill named McCarthy in his latest squad yesterday ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Austria, and hit back at the comments.
O'Neill said: "James had declared himself fit. He played the first game. He didn't come through injury. He came off through tiredness. And remarkably he actually trained at Everton on the very day that the manager was bleating about it."
Koeman remains unimpressed regardless of that response and would prefer to see McCarthy focus on his recovery first and foremost.
"The player is not fit. The player is not involved in team sessions. To have a call-up he needs to be close. It's a little bit the same story as last time. I advised James to stay here, train and be fit as soon as possible," said Koeman.
"It's always difficult because the player is between the club and between Ireland. But first of all you have to do what's best for his club, and if you are fit then you do your best for your nation."
McCarthy has made three Premier League appearances for Everton this season, with the last fixture being a 1-1 draw against Manchester City when he took to the field for 33 minutes.