McCarthy eyeing Greek birthday gift
James McCarthy admits the best present he could wish for on his 22nd birthday would be to put a smile on his father's face by helping Ireland beat Greece.
Ireland, and their manager Giovanni Trapattoni, are under pressure to pull off a win over the Greeks in Dublin on Wednesday night after their previous appearance at the Aviva Stadium ended in a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Germany.
McCarthy's father Willie often attends his son's matches in between having treatment for his illness and may fly over for the game on Wednesday - the day after McCarthy turns 22. "Yes, definitely," McCarthy said when asked if an ideal present would be to put a smile on his father's face.
He added: "He is happy to see me playing football. He always wants me to do well. He has always been there. He always wants me to enjoy my football. He has always been brilliant with me, and he is proud of me. He enjoys it."
McCarthy, who made his debut for Hamilton at the age of 15, has started all five internationals since Ireland exited Euro 2012 and he is likely to be in the Italian's starting XI again on Wednesday night.
McCarthy admits it would be a dream come true to represent his adopted country - he was born in Scotland - at the next World Cup having missed out on the European Championship.
Whether his manager is capable of taking the national team there is another matter which has been up for debate in Ireland of late.
Several players have turned down the opportunity to play for their country, whether it be due to retirement, or because of disagreements with the Italian, and reports continue to circulate about a breakdown in relationship between the 73-year-old and his players.
Trapattoni's apparent reluctance to draft in some of Ireland's rising stars has also caused consternation, but McCarthy remains fully behind the man at the helm. "I think he's the right man," McCarthy said. "He has achieved so much for Ireland. The result against Germany wasn't acceptable, but I think he will kick us on again.
"He will blend the kids in gradually. He won't just throw everyone in. He can't. That's not the right thing to do. His communication is fine. We all understand what we need to do and what we have to."