"I think we've been more than fair with the players and the clubs" - Roy Keane hits back at Everton after McCarthy withdrawal

He was speaking at a press conference ahead of this weekend's clash with Austria

Roy Keane

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy 

Roy Keane has challenged Everton players to toughen up and took a swipe at the club today in the wake of James McCarthy's withdrawal from the international squad.

Ireland face Austria this weekend in Vienna and can go top of the group with victory, with Serbia facing a tough task against Wales.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Keane criticised the club for returning players to the international side with injuries in recent years under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez and told them to appreciate the the positive impact they have had on the club.

"I always felt like the Everton players would always turn up on crutches or crawling in the hotel door," he said. "And now it looks like we're going to have that issue again with Koeman. Hopefully not.

"Everton as a football club - and I'm not sure when they last won a trophy, I think it was a good number of years ago - don't play any European football. I think they're out of the League Cup , I think Norwich beat them at Goodison [Park]. Maybe as a football club - and it's a brilliant football club - but maybe their players need to toughen up a bit.

"They're lucky to have the Irish lads they've got there. Everton have traditionally had Irish players do well for the football club. So they shouldn't be so quick to stop Irish players coming to play for Ireland."

John O'Shea will join the squad on Tuesday night, while Eunan O'Kane sat out training today with a minor groin issue. James McClean was another who sat out Tuesday's training with a back issue, but the attention has once again fallen on McCarthy who pulled out of the squad on Monday evening. 

Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan were among the players who trained this afternoon. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy 

"We're disappointed that James is not here but we knew he was struggling with the injury he's had. He's obviously missed the last one or two games, he's missed some training and he wasn't fit to report.

"We're disappointed, it's like Wardy [Stephen Ward] and some of the other lads. We know players are under pressure from their clubs obviously. The clubs are looking after themselves. We're disappointed James couldn't make it but we'll survive."

Keane echoed Jose Mourinho's comments earlier in the week claiming that players need to be able to play through knocks and injuries.

"Yeah of course, I think that goes without saying. Most players will be carrying knocks of some sort but having said that, when a player's injured, he's injured.

"As long as I've been involved with Ireland for the last few years with the manager, we've been more than fair to the clubs and the players... I don't think we've ever taken unnecessary risks with the players. 

"We've had a number of players who have missed international matches because we've not risked them and they've played a couple of days later for the club. But from the club's point of view, obviously they're worried when their players go away and play international football.

"For us with Ireland, I think we've been more than fair with the players and the clubs."