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The 34-year-old missed only his sixth game in two-and-half seasons last weekend when he was rested for the 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Aston Villa.

He’ll return to the right-wing for today’s match at table-toppers Cardiff City to make his 156th appearance for the club in less than four years.

Despite going through a difficult off-field time when his wife gave birth prematurely to twins last year, the Trinidadian has always continued to go about his business with a smile on his face.

And McCarthy admits he’s been impressed with his captain as the veteran attempts to earn himself another one-year contract extension with the club.

“I gave him a break because he has been different class,” said the Blues boss.

“He has played four games in two weeks and he has been fab.

“It was the same with Guirane N’Daw and the same with Chambo (Luke Chambers) – I could have tossed a coin between him and Tommy Smith (as to who to rest) last week. The fact Patrick (Kisnorbo) is right-footed, I played him.

“If Tyrone Mings hadn’t been cup-tied, I would have played him instead of Cressie (Aaron Cresswell) as well.

“They will feel a bit fresher going into the Cardiff game now.”