London - Everton manager Ronald Koeman has blasted Republic of Ireland coach Martin O'Neill for failing to protect James McCarthy from injury.
McCarthy has been ruled out of Saturday's vital Merseyside derby against Liverpool after suffering a hamstring problem while on international duty with Ireland.
Despite missing Everton's last two games because of a hamstring complaint, McCarthy was named in the Republic's starting line-up for their World Cup qualifier against Wales last Friday, only to then be forced to withdraw having aggravated it just before kick-off.
Koeman admitted the player needed to take responsibility as well, but he was especially critical of O'Neill, who had already been criticised by the Dutchman earlier this season over McCarthy's use by the Republic after suffering another injury.
"James had an injury when he reported for Ireland duty last week. Our medical team made the Ireland medical team aware of this, of course," Koeman said on Friday.
"Everton's medical team advised extreme caution, not only due to the current injury but due to previous injuries too, and the assessment by the Ireland medical team was that it would be a high risk for James to play against Wales.
"But, of course, James has a strong desire to play for his country. So, when asked if he was fit to play, he said he felt he was fit, and he was selected to start the game by the Ireland manager who, in my opinion, in this instance was not protecting the player.
"Clearly James was not fit to play. He had trained only for two days with Ireland and he broke down during the warm up.
"I spoke to James, and he needs to take responsibility for this. But it is not the first time."