ROBERTO Martinez insists James McCarthy ‘will not be rushed’ into making a decision on his international future, with Ireland and Scottish involved in a tug of war over his services.
McCarthy was born in Glasgow but has represented the Republic of Ireland from junior level all the way up to the senior side, for whom he made his debut against Brazil last February.
However, because he has yet to make an appearance for Ireland – who he qualifies for on account of his Donegal-born grandfather – in an official fixture, he remains able to switch to his homeland until he turns 21 at the end of the year.
After the midfielder withdrew from the squad to face Wales on Tuesday, coach Giovanni Trapattoni admitted McCarthy was still ‘free to decide’ – fuelling speculation the player may be contemplating a U-turn.
However, Martinez insists the whole situation has been blown out of proportion, and says McCarthy – who is only just back after a three-month injury lay-off – is far more focused on helping Latics pull away from relegation trouble.
“Obviously James has come back a few weeks earlier than expected, and has been involved in four matches in the space of 12 days that he wasn’t expected to be involved in,” Martinez said.
“He was called up by the Ireland Under-21s at first, and then the senior side, but physically he is not up to playing international football at the moment.
“I have spoken with Mr Trapattoni and the Irish medical staff and they were fine with it, they understood the situation.
“Then we have all this speculation in the press about Scotland and Ireland – and until that possibility isn’t there, we’ll all have to live with the speculation.
“I personally don’t think that James is fully focused on his international career.
“At the moment, at the age of 20, I feel he wants to focus on Wigan Athletic. International football is not his priority just now.”
With Ireland having an important European Championship qualifier against Macedonia next month, McCarthy may have to make his decision sooner rather than later.
But Martinez added: “James is a very mature 20 year old, and it’s a decision that has to be made with his family and his friends.”
The Latics boss did, however, admit the former Hamilton man may be the subject of a concerted campaign from inside the Wigan dressing room to switch his allegiance.
“You can imagine what it’s like in our dressing room, where there is a very strong Scottish contingent,” Martinez chuckled.
“You have got his best friend James McArthur, who is enjoying a great spell with Scotland, you have the national captain in Gary Caldwell and you also have Steven Caldwell.
“I’m sure James is the focus of a lot of jokes and banter, but it’s not something he will be losing sleep over. The more pressure people put on James, the less likely he will be to be rushed into his decision.”