James McCarthy has been included in a provisional 39-man Republic of Ireland squad for next month’s World Cup qualifying matches with Georgia and Serbia.
Midfielder McCarthy is yet to feature for the Blues this season, but boss Ronald Koeman last week revealed the 26-year-old had returned to first-team training following a knee injury.
The Irish, who lie second in qualifying Group D, travel to Tbilisi to face Georgia on 2 September, before returning home for a potentially decisive clash with the table-topping Serbs in Dublin three days later, on 5 September.
Martin O’Neill’s team hold a four-point advantage over Wales in third, and trail Serbia only on goal difference – with only the group winners qualifying automatically for next year’s finals in Russia.
Ireland and Serbia drew 2-2 in Belgrade last October, while Ireland won their home match with Georgia courtesy of a strike from Toffees right-back Seamus Coleman.
McCarthy and his international teammates will report for duty on 28 August, before O’Neill trims the party ahead of their departure for Georgia on 31 August.