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Republic not protecting McCarthy – Everton boss Koeman

McCarthy has made only one start for Everton this year

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has accused Republic of Ireland counterpart Martin O’Neill of “not protecting” James McCarthy as their row over the midfielder’s fitness continues.

McCarthy, 26, missed Everton’s past two matches but linked up with the Republic squad in the international break.

He suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury, ruling him out of Saturday’s derby at Liverpool.

“We advised extreme caution. He was not fit to play,” said Koeman.

McCarthy was named in O’Neill’s starting line-up for the 0-0 draw against Wales but pulled out of the team after suffering an injury in the warm-up.

The Toffees boss, clearly angered by the ongoing issue, read out a prepared statement at a news conference on Friday.

McCarthy has made just five starts for Everton since the end of August.

Koeman said before the international break that the midfielder was “one or two weeks” away from fitness.

“In my opinion, the Ireland manager in this instance was not protecting the player,” he said.

In October, the Dutchman said McCarthy, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury for several months, had been “massively overloaded” by the Republic.

That came in response to O’Neill’s claim that Koeman was “bleating” about the matter.

Former Republic midfielder Roy Keane, O’Neill’s assistant, then said Everton players must “toughen up”.

More to follow.

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