McCarthy (left) looked to have picked up an injury in the second half
Sunderland will replay Blackburn in the FA Cup fourth round after a goalless draw at a half-empty Stadium of Light.
Christopher Samba and Roque Santa Cruz both wasted good chances to put Blackburn ahead in the first half.
Morten Gamst Pedersen also went close but his 45th-minute shot was cleared off the line by Pascal Chimbonda.
Sunderland did put the ball in the net but David Healy's 65th-minute strike was ruled to be offside while Chimbonda dragged a shot wide before the end.
Both sides made wholesale changes to their sides from last weekend's Premier League games and it was a scrappy affair with little flowing football.
Samba could have put Rovers ahead after just two minutes but he headed Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner wide when he really should have hit the target.
Blackburn had the better chances to score and Santa Cruz, who was making his first start in six weeks, had a great opportunity to give them the lead but his 26th-minute attempt was easily saved when one-on-one with Black Cats' keeper Marton Fulop.
Sunderland's best chance of the first half fell to Michael Chopra on 20 minutes but his shot from outside the area was parried by Paul Robinson and Healy was unable to convert the follow-up.
The home side appealed for a penalty eight minutes later but referee Lee Probert waved away Grant Leadbitter's protests after he went down from Ryan Nelsen's challenge. Probert then gave a free-kick the other way.
The second-half continued in a similar fashion with few clear chances, although Healy did get the ball in the back of the net.
But his goal was ruled out as he was adjudged to be offside after latching on to Steed Malbranque's through-ball.
Malbranque was then involved in another attacking move for the Black Cats but wasted his chance to convert Kenwyne Jones' 70th-minute pass from inside the six-yard box.
With Sunderland putting late pressure on the visitors a strong challenge from Andy Reid saw Vince Grella limp off the field leaving Blackburn with 10 men.
Referee Lee Probert had waved play-on but Chimbonda missed Sunderland's last clear chance, side-footing wide from 18 yards.
Sunderland will now replay Blackburn at Ewood Park on Wednesday 4 February (kick-off 2000 GMT).
Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia:
"We sent out a team to try and win , simple as that.
"I thought we did reasonably well in the second half, moved the ball around nicely. Maybe we lacked a cutting edge up front but it gives the squad players some football.
"I thought Blackburn maybe had the best chances and if they had scored perhaps it would have changed the game. But it's a draw and we're still in the hat."
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce:
"The replay is a game which both of us could probably do without."
"We didn't lose but we wanted to get a result and get into the next round. It was a disappointment that we failed to convert three glorious chances in the first half.
"Pascal Chimbonda's save on the line was pretty miraculous from Morten Gamst Pedersen's shot so I can't blame him for that but Christopher Samba's header at the near post and Roque Santa Cruz's one-on-one with their keeper are the sort of chances we expect to convert."
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