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Republic of Ireland v Sweden

McCarthy ready for Euros opener

20:56 SAST 2016/06/03
mccarthy - cropped
The Everton midfielder has been unable to play in either of his country's friendlies ahead of the tournament, but believes he is ready to resume action

James McCarthy has declared himself fit for Republic of Ireland's opening game against Sweden at Euro 2016.

The midfielder missed both warm-up games ahead of the tournament due to a muscle injury he picked up in Everton's final game of the Premier League campaign against Norwich City.

He returned to training with Martin O'Neill's squad earlier this week and was able to play a full part on Thursday as their attentions turned to Sweden on June 13.

"I should be fine," said the 25-year-old. "I've trained with the team the last couple of days and hopefully now I can step it up. 

"It's obviously good to be back training again with the squad and hopefully now I can kick on and step up the fitness.

"It's hamstring, groin - it's a bit of both, to be honest - but as I say, I am back training and delighted to be back with the squad."

Ireland go into the first game in Group E on the back of three games without a win – including the recent friendlies with Netherlands and Belarus – but McCarthy insists morale remains high within the camp.

"There's a massive excitement about the place, but we'll take it a game at a time and we won't get too carried away," he added.

"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, don't get me wrong, but we'll take it a game at a time. 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 and we are looking forward to it."