JAMES McCarthy has ‘come of age’ as an international footballer this week, according to Roberto Martinez.
The Wigan midfielder made his first start for Ireland in a competitive game last Friday, playing the full 90 minutes of the hard-fought 2-1 victory in Kazakhstan.
McCarthy has long-since been touted for stardom by Martinez, who believes the 21-year-old will one day play for a “top, top club” in European football.
And the Latics chief believes the events of last week will only help him on his path to stardom.
“I think James is ready for it, and his performance the other night showed you that,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“Developing good partnerships across the field are important, and he and Glenn Whelan showed they already have that understanding.
“They were flexible during the game, and they had to be because Ireland were 1-0 down for much of the game and they had to come from behind to win it late on.
“He showed great composure in his performance, I thought he was outstanding on the ball, and the stability he provided along with Whelan probably allowed Ireland to win the game.
“It doesn’t surprise me he was able to do that, nothing surprises me about James anymore.
“I was pleased for him he was able to put in such a good performance with his country watching, but he is such a mature player and the experience can only help him as a footballer.”
The former Hamilton man missed Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign because of personal reasons.
But his call-up by Giovanni Trapattoni was fully deserved after a superb start to the season at club level.
His consistency of performances were in contrast to last term when, by his own admissions he struggled to get going because of niggling injuries.
But Martinez says the benefits of a good rest over the summer has enabled McCarthy to show what he is really made of this term.
“It’s fair to say that as a young player you need to learn from your own experiences,” Martinez added.
“He had a slow start to last season, he didn’t have that continuity because of a couple of injuries.
“But this season he really has taken advantage of some excellent work over the summer, he was able to relax, and the way he has started has been outstanding. James is such a unique player, a unique type of character on a football pitch, and we know exactly how lucky we are to have him at Wigan Athletic.
“And I’m sure he’ll carry on developing into a top, top player at a world-class level.”