Republic boosted by McCarthy fitness

James McCarthy has won 33 caps for the Republic of Ireland since making his debut in 2010

James McCarthy has won 33 caps for the Republic of Ireland since making his debut in 2010

James McCarthy has declared himself fit for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener against Sweden on 13 June.

The Everton midfielder suffered a groin and hamstring injury in his club’s final-day league win over Norwich and missed Friday’s 1-1 draw with Holland.

He was eased back into action on Monday and trained with the rest of the squad on Thursday and Friday in Cork.

Asked if he’s fit for the Group E game in Paris, McCarthy replied: “I should be fine, it’s good to be back”.

McCarthy, 25, is a key member of Martin O’Neill’s team and his return to fitness will have come as a relief to the Republic of Ireland manager.

Although O’Neill initially reported the injury was a thigh problem, the player confirmed that wasn’t the case.


Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane got on his bike during training on Friday in a bid to boost his fitness for Euro 2016

“It’s hamstring, groin – it’s a bit of both, to be honest – but I am back training and delighted to be back with the squad.

“Hopefully now I can kick on and step up the fitness.”

Keane and Walters still on the sidelines

Captain Robbie Keane and fellow striker Jonathan Walters were both spectators once again at the Fota Island Resort on Friday as the rest of the squad went through its paces, both of them nursing calf problems.

Keane took to a mountain bike as his recovery is carefully supervised, although he is not expected to work with the group again until the middle of next week at the earliest, by which time the Republic will have taken up residence at the finals base at Versailles.

Ireland will head for France on the back of a first defeat in six matches with a virtual second string side having performed poorly to lose 2-1 to Belarus at Turner’s Cross on Tuesday evening.

McCarthy, who ruled himself out of contention for the squad in 2012 after his father was diagnosed with cancer, is looking forward to the tournament.

“Obviously the boss and the likes of Roy [Keane] and the backroom staff, they know how important it is to not look too far forward. We have got a tough group.

“Each and everyone one of us who is going on the plane and travelling to France, we know it’s going to be tough, but there’s a real excitement about the place.”

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