McCarthy hoping for birthday gift
James McCarthy admits the best present he could wish for on his 22nd birthday would be to put a smile on his father's face by helping the Republic of Ireland beat Greece.
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The Republic, and their manager Giovanni Trapattoni, are under pressure to pull off a win over the Greeks in Dublin on Wednesday night after their previous appearance at the Aviva Stadium ended in a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Germany.
Trapattoni received the backing of the Football Association of Ireland following the thrashing, which further enraged an Irish public who called for the Italian's head after their winless Euro 2012 campaign.
Things may have been different in Poland this summer had McCarthy been at Trapattoni's disposal. Just before the tournament, Wigan's midfield lynchpin had to withdraw from the Republic squad after his father Willie was diagnosed with cancer.
Willie often attends his son's matches in between having treatment for his illness and may fly over for the game on Wednesday - the day after McCarthy turns 22.
"Yes, definitely," McCarthy said when asked if an ideal present would be to put a smile on his father's face.
"He is happy to see me playing football. He always wants me to do well. He has always been there. He always wants me to enjoy my football.
"He has always been brilliant with me, and he is proud of me. He enjoys it."
Despite Trapattoni's reluctance to draft in younger players, McCarthy seems to be one of the Republic boss' first names on the team sheet thanks to his form for club and country.
McCarthy, who made his debut for Hamilton at the age of 15, has started all five internationals since the Republic exited Euro 2012 and he is likely to be in the Italian's starting XI again on Wednesday night.
That means the young midfielder will spend his birthday night in the wind-battered Grand Hotel on the Malahide coast, rather than out on the town like many other 22-year-olds would be.
"We will train tomorrow morning early doors and then I'll just take it easy in the hotel. That's all you can do when you're away on international duty," said McCarthy, who appears in FIFA 13 Ultimate Team.
"It will be good. I don't drink so it will be fine.
"I would love to spend a day with the family but I will see them when I get home."
McCarthy admits it would be a dream come true to represent his adopted country - he was born in Scotland - at the next World Cup having missed out on the European Championship.
Whether his manager is capable of taking the Republic there is another matter which has been up for debate in Ireland of late.
Several players have turned down the opportunity to play for their country, whether it be due to retirement, or because of disagreements with the Italian, and reports continue to circulate about a breakdown in relationship between the 73-year-old and his players.
Trapattoni's apparent reluctance to draft in some of the Republic's rising stars has also caused consternation, but McCarthy remains fully behind the man at the helm.
"I think he's the right man," McCarthy said.
"He has achieved so much for Ireland. The result against Germany wasn't acceptable, but I think he will kick us on again.
"He got us all up for the Faroe Islands game and hopefully we can get back to back wins now.
"He will blend the kids in gradually. He won't just throw everyone in. He can't. That's not the right thing to do.
"His communication is fine. We all understand what we need to do and what we have to."