James McCarthy is ready to put tough personal times behind him and finally ignite his Ireland career - starting with Wednesday night's friendly with Serbia in Belgrade.

McCarthy was one of the instrumental figures in helping Wigan stage a remarkable run to retain their place in the Barclays Premier League at the end of last season. A call-up for Ireland's Euro 2012 squad beckoned, only for the 21-year-old to agonisingly withdraw his name from selection as father Willie had been diagnosed with cancer.

"My dad is still getting treatment and fingers crossed everything goes well. At least things are more positive," said McCarthy. "It's obviously been a tough time. Now and again he gets a bit down, but it's hard for him given the treatment."

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