WATCH: Martin O'Neill feels Koeman criticism over James McCarthy situation is "slight" on Ireland medical staff

Boys in Green manager speaks to Newstalk's Ger Gilroy

BY Raf Diallo 14:47 Saturday 19 November 2016, 14:47 19 Nov 2016

Martin O'Neill and Ger Gilroy

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill feels the strong criticism from Everton boss Ronald Koeman over the use of James McCarthy is a "slight" on the Boys in Green medical staff. 

McCarthy was unavailable for Ireland's trip to Austria in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers this month, but played both games against Georgia and Moldova in October.

Koeman had been critical of the fact that the midfielder, who has struggled with niggling injuries this season, featured in those international games and accused Ireland of "massively over-loading" the player.

Speaking to Newstalk broadcaster Ger Gilroy, O'Neill had his response to the whole situation.

"It's very, very simple. James McCarthy came to play for us in games. He wanted to play. He was recovering from an injury, hadn't played for Everton. Of course that's in the lead-up to our matches," he said.

"But the injury that he had had healed. That's fine and he wanted to play. I wouldn't put James McCarthy or any other player in the situation where he didn't feel as if they could play, hence him not playing this time with the hamstring injury. 

"That was totally different to the injury he sustained at Everton. So he comes to us. He wants to play in the games. I knew that he was going to get tired, certainly in one of the games. But he left us having participated in two games and he goes back to Everton and he's fit. In fact, if anything it might have helped him. Then the next thing I hear is the manager [Koeman] saying that we've killed him which is a slight against our medical staff. So Lazarus returns immediately on the very day he's talking about it. James McCarthy had actually trained for Everton and was available two days later, makes the bench and comes on. So it makes the words that you're talking about rather hollow."

The win over Austria means Ireland are top of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group after four rounds of matches, although performances have been met with criticism - particularly in the first three fixtures. 

"Yes, of course the results are the be all and end all of everything. You have to try and win football matches," he said, adding that it is also about enjoying things with the fans.

"I think everything goes together. I think you have to get the results. We have to grind out results to try and get to major tournaments. It's not as if to say we're qualifying every single time. So you have to grind it out and the players are totally aware of that. A night in Austria will be totally different to for instance a match against France in Lyon. Totally different - atmosphere - everything is different."

The Derry man drew on a couple of examples from the recent months in the Premier League to explain his point about how quickly observers draw up definitive conclusions.

"People get carried away with things. For instance, you mentioned there the Premier League and I'll give you two instances. Pep Guardiola comes over and takes over at Manchester City, makes a few changes. He won the first five or six matches and then suddenly then they're going to win the league by a landslide. I even heard some journalist speaking on a show on a Sunday talking about how Manchester City go through the league unbeaten. I heartily laughed to myself. The suddenly they lose a few games and now it's not as rosy as you think. Now they're fighting back again," he said.

"It's only seven weeks ago since [Antonio] Conte had to defend himself by possibly losing his job at Chelsea. What have they gone and done? Gone on a run. I think people, more so than ever before - maybe it's social media, maybe it's media, maybe it's all of those - people jump to conclusions very, very quickly."

He went on to draw comparisons with the 1-1 draw in Dublin with Scotland during the Euro 2016 qualifiers when the result was met with a response that the Boys in Green would not qualify - they did via the playoffs.

"I've had to live with this here as well in the same time. We drew against Scotland. We were not out of the competition. It was doom and gloom. And we fought and we went through," he said.

Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O’Neill and former Republic of Ireland International Keith Andrews were on hand today to launch the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme in Aviva Stadium. The five-a-side school blitzes are open to boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class. Registration will close on February 17th. For further information or to register your school please see www.spar.ie or www.faischools.ie

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