Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Martinez urges McCarthy caution

James McCarthy

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez says James McCarthy faces "a very, very deep" decision about whether to switch allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to Scotland.

McCarthy sat out the Republic's Carling Nations Cup victory against Wales on Tuesday as he only recently recovered from an ankle injury and Martinez did not want him to be risked. That led to widespread speculation the Glasgow-born player, who qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandfather, could yet switch sides ahead of next month's Euro 2012 qualifiers.

"I do not know if it is a decision for him to make now or not. We need to give him plenty of time. We need to respect him," said Martinez.

"He wants to help Wigan. For me that is fantastic. It (international football) 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."

Martinez insists he kept the Republic of Ireland fully informed about McCarthy, who was withdrawn after he scored twice in the 4-3 victory against Blackburn.

He said: "It wasn't the right time for him to go. He could not have coped with the physical demands. That's it really. I spoke with the Republic of Ireland staff to make sure they knew the programme James was on.

"When James got injured late in October he was so disappointed he just wanted to get back fully fit as quick as a he could. He told me then he needed to forget his international career and that was the conversation we had.

"If you look at his performance on Saturday, James McCarthy is going to be one of the top footballers in Europe. What a player to have for your country or club."

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