The Scotsman suffered a double leg break while with the Toffees in January 2018, but during his time on Merseyside and before, he'd had an admirer in Roy Hodgson.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference before McCarthy's first trip back to Goodison Park, Hodgson explained why he had 'persuaded' the club to buy the midfielder and how he has fared since arriving.
Hodgson said: "His fitness had been re-established at Everton but of course he wasn't able to break in to the team. He was spending long periods from the outside looking in and he had to do that for a month or two perhaps when he came here, too.
"But it's nice since he broke in to the team to see his confidence growing and we are now we’re beginning to see the player I always knew he was, and the player that I actually persuaded the club to buy because I knew that in James McCarthy we were getting a top class Premier League football player.
"He’s been good, he’s getting better and better as well. We’re quite blessed in that area [central midfield], we have four very good centre-midfield players who’ve rotated during the season and there are one or two others, people like Max Meyer and Jairo Riedewald, who are knocking on the door waiting for their opportunity. So we’re not weak in that area of the field, we’re quite blessed."