Roberto Martinez: Roy Keane criticism over Everton players is 'nonsense'

LIVERPOOL -- Everton manager Roberto Martinez has dismissed as "nonsense" the criticism about his handling of international players handed out by Roy Keane.

Republic of Ireland assistant boss Keane -- who is also Paul Lambert's No. 2 at Aston Villa -- suggested during a media briefing on Sunday that Everton exaggerated the extent of injuries suffered by James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman.

Keane added that McCarthy, who is recovering from a hamstring problem, was "under lots of pressure" from the Toffees not to play in internationals.

The 24-year-old, one of four Everton players in the most recent Republic squad, was unable to play in last Friday's 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifying defeat against Scotland or Tuesday's 4-1 friendly win over the U.S. in Dublin.

But Martinez insisted that McCarthy, Coleman, Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady were all committed to playing for Martin O'Neill's said.

The Everton manager told a news conference: "We have a good relationship with the manager. Martin O'Neill and I keep in touch quite frequently, and we share information.

"Since I've been at the club, 18 players have represented their countries, winning more than 140 caps. It's something that we're very, very proud of.

"A lot has been said. A lot of it is nonsense. The reality is that the conversations between the managers of the associations and ourselves have always been really good, and they'll carry on being good.

"The four players in the Republic of Ireland squad -- Aiden McGeady, Darren Gibson, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy -- are four incredible characters, four players who love to play for their country. "And it's disappointing when you see news that could put that in doubt. That's the disappointing aspect.

"All the fans in the Republic of Ireland need to know that these players would give their lives to represent their countries. That's something we're very, very proud of."

McCarthy's hamstring injury, sustained in the 1-1 Premier League draw at Sunderland on Nov. 9, makes him a doubt for Saturday's home match against West Ham.

Gibson, who played 70 minutes against Scotland before coming off with a sore knee, will also be assessed, as will Coleman, who figured for the Republic with five stitches in a gashed shin sustained during the 3-0 Europa League win over Lille on Nov. 6.

Midfielder Gareth Barry is recovering from an ankle problem, but has not been ruled out of the West Ham game, while forward Kevin Mirallas is closing in on a return after almost two months out with hamstring trouble. Left-back Leighton Baines, though, is a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury while on England duty last week.

"We're checking Leighton on a daily basis," Martinez said. "He's someone who heals really quickly. He had a grade one injury on Friday with England.

"He stopped immediately, and we worked really well, the two medical departments. "At the moment, it's difficult to know if he's going to be involved on Saturday or not.

"It's going to be touch and go. I don't expect that injury to go too far. Normally it's between 10 and 14 days.

"With Leighton, you can't really rule him out. I've seen him recover from a grade one hamstring problem in eight days, so we're going to try to give him as much chance as we can to see if he can make it for Saturday.

"If he can't, I hope he can be fit for the Wolfsburg game [in the Europa League next Thursday]."

Martinez has repeatedly played down the idea of going into the transfer market in January in order to bolster his injury-hit squad, but was coy when asked about links with Barcelona right-back Martin Montoya.

He said: "I know that you're going to ask me about names of possible targets. The answer's always the same. We never stand still. We always keep looking to identify players who could represent our club and fit in with the way we want to play. But I would never comment on players registered with other clubs.

"The squad is strong, but we will try to use every window to our advantage. This season, we planned for the squad to be strong for 10 months of competition, and rather than getting reinforcements in January, so that's clear."