James McCarthy contacts FAI to assure allegiance
Yesterday, Wigan Roberto Martinez repeated his claims that James McCarthy had not made up his mind about his international future. However, this morning’s Irish newspapers all run with the story that the 20 year old contacted the FAI earlier this week to discuss travel arrangements for next week’s international.
In February, Martinez stoked the fire by saying that McCarthy was going to wait until the summer to decide whether to play for the Republic of Ireland or Scotland. “We need to give him plenty of time,” Martinez claimed. “We need to respect him. He wants to help Wigan. For me that is fantastic. It [his international future] is something he needs to think about with his family, with his friends.
“It is something very, very deep. But I do not think he has focused on that at all, although it is great to have two nations fighting over you. James is probably the most mature 20-year-old in football. It is a compliment to him. I don’t think it is going to affect him. It is going to give him a more arrogant feeling if you want.”
Yesterday, the under-pressure Wigan boss reiterated his claim, despite McCarthy being called up to the Irish squad to face Macedonia and Uruguay, as well as ‘clear the air’ talks between Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and the player last week. On his February pull-out, Trap said there was no doubts about switching allegiance. “There were no issues with James McCarthy, he was injured”, the Italian said. “He smiled and insisted he’d stay with Ireland.”
With those developments, Martinez’s claims yesterday seem bizarre, with the Wigan manager stating “He has been called up for the two games against Macedonia and Uruguay but for the moment James is still focusing on Wigan Athletic. I am sure it is going to be decided shortly but the focus goes to Birmingham for now.”
“It is very unfair to try to put him under this massive pressure, it has been growing day by day. He needs to have time and space to make the right decision as to who he wants to play for at international level. I don’t see it as a deadline for him to make a decision. I think his career has always been allowed to progress and his international career should be the same.
“I don’t expect a final decision unless James is ready for it. When he is ready to decide where to play his international football we will be supportive and happy for him.The nation that is going to get James McCarthy is going to be a very fortunate one.”
Obviously Martinez has not spoken to James McCarthy himself, or would have known that the player’s family have arranged accommodation and flights for next weeks’ Euro 2012 Qualifier with Macedonia. Irish fans have been left bemused by Martinez’s claims, particularly after he was photographed meeting Scotland boss Craig Levein last month.
On Wednesday, Levein named his Scottish squad to face Brazil in a friendly, and was once again asked about McCarthy. “James isn’t in this squad”, he told the Scottish Daily Mail. “At this minute of time he hasn’t played a competitive match for Ireland, if he does play a competitive international for Ireland, that will be it. I don’t want to sit down at this particular juncture and talk about James McCarthy.”
With Wigan currently sitting in last place in the Premiership, four points from safety, Martinez possibly wants one of his key players to focus on club football. However, you would imagine that his latest claim would only undermine his relationship with the midfielder. Some fans have also mooted the idea of the FAI making a complaint to UEFA about Martinez “trying to prevent James McCarthy from playing international football with Ireland”, something which is a very serious offence.