Five consecutive league victories have set up a tantalising match at home to Arsenal this weekend, which, if they win, could take Everton to within a point of their rivals with a game in hand at home to Crystal Palace.
While a top-four finish is far from assured, McCarthy - who came through the ranks at Hamilton Academical before moving south to Wigan Athletic - believes his team-mates know exactly what would be at stake if they avenge their FA Cup quarter-final exit last month. "Arsenal at home is going to be a big one," he admitted.
"I'm sure the fans will come out in their numbers, hopefully we can put things right from last time we played them and push for that Champions League spot. They put us out of the cup and it is never nice to get beat. It's going to be a big ask but we will give it our best shot.
"It's in the balance and if we want it, it's there in front of us, we can go and give it our best shot. As a squad we believe we can do it but there is a long way to go. You need to enjoy the occasion and the challenge. If you don't then you are in the wrong game to be fair."