LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Everton manager Roberto Martinez dismissed Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane’s claims that the Premier League club put pressure on their players not to play for Ireland as “complete nonsense” on Thursday.
Keane suggested that Everton put pressure on their Ireland players to exaggerate injuries so they would miss internationals but Martinez dismissed that when he spoke to reporters before Saturday’s match against West Ham United.
Aidan McGeady, Darron Gibson, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy are all Ireland regulars and Martinez said Keane’s comments were “complete nonsense”.
Asked if what Keane said upset him, he said, ”No. The only thing I care about is the players.
”We’ve produced four players for the Republic of Ireland, four incredible characters, four players who just love playing for their country and it is disappointing when you see that someone could put that in doubt.
“I have a good relationship with Martin O‘Neill, the Ireland manager, we keep in touch frequently and we share information, and at this club we are very proud when our players represent their countries.”
Everton are hoping that McCarthy, Coleman and Gibson will be fit to face West Ham and also hope that Leighton Baines will be fit following a hamstring injury.
West Ham could be without two players who have been crucial to their excellent start to the season.
Senegal striker Diafra Sakho, who has scored six goals for the Hammers in six starts, suffered a back problem which forced him out of his country’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Botswana on Wednesday.
Midfielder Stewart Downing, who played for the opening 45 minutes of England’s friendly against Scotland on Tuesday, suffered a knee injury and is a doubt for the Goodison Park clash.
West Ham are fourth in the standings and unbeaten in their last five league matches.
Manager Sam Allardyce told reporters he was prepared to wait until Saturday morning before finalising his lineup.
“We don’t know if Sakho will be OK for Everton yet. He will be assessed again, but we will wait until Saturday morning if need be while Downing injured his knee on Tuesday against Scotland.”
One positive piece of news for the Hammers is that England international striker Andy Carroll could return to the starting lineup for the first time this season.
He injured his ankle on the pre-season tour to New Zealand but came on for the last 15 minutes of West Ham’s last match against Aston Villa on Nov. 8. (Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Justin Palmer)