Seamus Coleman aside, there is uncertainty around Everton's Irish contingent

McGeady is out on loan, McCarthy's future is unclear and Gibson has barely featured

Darron Gibson, Everton

Picture by: Richard Sellers / EMPICS Sport

For two matches in a row during March 2015, Everton started with a trio of Irish international players.

Seamus Coleman, as he remains now, was the first choice right back in consecutive wins over Newcastle (3-0) and QPR (2-1).

The base of the midfield itself was staffed by James McCarthy and Darron Gibson, who have 68 Boys in Green caps between them.

Absent was Ireland winger Aiden McGeady through injury but the former Celtic and Spartak Moscow player was part of a quartet that regularly received Ireland call ups when fit.

Fast forward 18 months and the Irish contingent don't feel quite as integral at Everton, with the exception of Coleman.

McGeady has since departed on loan to Preston North End, not long after spending half a season at Sheffield Wednesday in the build up to Euro 2016.

Meanwhile, the fact that Martin O'Neill has publicly stated that James McCarthy needs to "fight like mad" for his place in the Everton team suggests the midfielder really does face a battle, amid talk that manager Ronald Koeman could be willing to sell him in January. 

O'Neill added that, "It’s probably the first time in his professional career that James’s position has been under threat at first-team level. So if it is, fight like mad."

The 26-year-old has been in the eye of the storm this Autumn in a club versus country row between Everton's manager and his Ireland counterpart, all while struggling with niggling muscular injuries.

And it comes at a time when he is adjusting to Koeman's methods, having been a favourite of previous Toffees incumbent Roberto Martinez at both Goodison Park and previously at Wigan Athletic.

Gareth Barry, even at 35, remains at the heart of the midfield at Everton, while Idrissa Gana Gueye's tenacity has seen him become a regular first choice.

Bosnian Muhamed Bešić is also returning from injury, while Tom Cleverley can also play centrally.

While that creates greater competition for McCarthy to contend with, it's fellow central midfielder Gibson who really loses out in the pecking order.

Injuries have been the bane of his career in recent seasons and was the case at the start of this season when a groin strain kept him out for weeks.

However, before and since that setback, he has not featured at all on the Premier League this season - not even on the bench - although Koeman did afford him 24 minutes of action in the EFL Cup win over Yeovil Town.

The groin strain struck him shortly after that cup match and although he signed a contract extension in June, one has to wonder about his long term prospects at Everton as Koeman looks to put his stamp on the team.

It leaves Coleman as the only Irish international with a certain place in an Everton team that at one point looked a possible challenger for European places.