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O'Neill hits back at Koeman

The Everton boss was left fuming with Ireland last month after McCarthy played all but ten minutes of two games for Ireland having only just returned to training after a hernia operation.

O'Neill, who has named McCarthy in his provisional 35-man squad for next week's World Cup qualifier against Austria, has now had a chance to respond to the Dutchman and has rubbished his claims Ireland were careless with the midfielder.

He said: "I totally refute that. James had declared himself fit. He played the first game and came off in the second not because he was injured but because he was tired, and, remarkably, he trained the very day their manager was bleating about it.

"I am speaking to James and he is improving day by day. If the game was this weekend he wouldn’t make it and for the following weekend I would say he is doubtful.

"He needs to get some training in but I said I would leave him in the provisional squad to see how things go."

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