JAMES McCARTHY “still has loads to offer” – that’s the verdict of former Celtic captain Gary Caldwell.

The one-time Hoops and Scotland centre-back insists it would be wrong to write off the 31-year-old Republic of Ireland international.

McCarthy is at the crossroads of his Parkhead career, as CQN reported yesterday.

The stylish anchorman, who still has three years to run on his contract, made only six starts in his 13 appearances after arriving last summer as a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace.

DREAM COME TRUE…James McCarthy holds the Celtic jersey after joining his boyhood favourites.

He is one of five middle-of-the-park performers introduced by Ange Postecoglou along with Reo Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi, Matt O’Riley and Aaron Mooy during the Greek-Australian’s 14 months in charge.

Liam Shaw, who spent the second half of last term on loan at Motherwell, also joined from Sheffield Wednesday in a deal arranged before the arrival of Neil Lennon’s long-term successor.

Making way since the end of the title-winning campaign have been Tom Rogic, Nir Bitton and Ismail Soro.

It has been suggested McCarthy could be on his way before the signing deadline at midnight on August 31.

However, Caldwell said: “James McCarthy is a great character.

“I was fortunate enough to share a changing room with him at Wigan over a number of years and he’s a great lad.

“He was 18, but looked so young at the time that I felt a duty to look after him whenever we played.

“We actually both made our full Premier League debuts against Wolves and it soon became clear that he could handle himself.”

IN COMMAND…James McCarthy directs the traffic during Celtic’s Europa League encounter against Real Betis in Seville in September.

Caldwell, speaking to the Scottish Sun, continued: “McCarthy was also always someone who gave 100 per cent every day in training with a real winning mentality and I’m sure that hasn’t changed.

“He was a terrific team-mate and I still think he’d be an asset to any squad at this stage of his career.

“James did have a lot of injuries in his younger years, quite serious injuries. At Wigan, he hurt an ankle badly and then at Everton broke a  leg and he had hamstring issues, too.

“That can catch up with you when you get into your thirties. I retired at 32 because my body couldn’t go on any longer, but I don’t get the impression he is anywhere near that stage yet.

“I still think James has got loads to offer and if he decided it’s time to move on from Celtic there will be a queue of clubs interested.”

Former Partick Thistle boss Caldwell added: “At Wigan, McCarthy was fantastic at covering the ground, winning the ball back and then turning defence into attack. He had incredible quality playing off both feet.

“When he moved to Everton I remember he was linked with a move to Manchester United.

HERE WE GO AGAIN…James Forrest and James McCarthy prepare for pre-season training at Lennoxtown.

“Some of the massive clubs in English football were interested in signing him, so that shows the quality he had.

“That’s how good he was and shows how much ability that he possessed.

“I think he’ll understand at 31 that he’s not going to be that same dynamic player.

“But the experience he’s gained over the years in England means he can still play at a high level for a number of years yet.

“Any Premiership team in Scotland would be keen on taking him on as well as plenty of Championship clubs down south.

“If he’s still got the hunger you need to train and play every week then I believe he’s got plenty to offer yet.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of clubs who try to sign him if he becomes available.”

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