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Martin O'Neill responds after leaked WhatsApp audio describes Roy Keane's rant at Harry Arter

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has said that any criticism aimed at players by his assistant Roy Keane is his responsibility.

An audio file has been circulated on social media today, allegedly of Stephen Ward discussing Keane's altercations with Jon Walters and Harry Arter, which took place in Ireland camp over the summer. Ward was not with the squad at the time of the incidents. Last week Arter stepped away from the Irish squad due to the disagreement with Keane.

Speaking to the media ahead of tomorrow night's friendly against Poland, O'Neill addressed the audio, attributing it to Ward and said that disagreements between players and management have happened before.

"First of all, I don't think that Stephen [Ward] was there. Stephen wasn't actually there. He was just picking up on things; something that we talked about at the beginning of the week. Probably not anything more really to report," O'Neill said before claiming that Ward's version of events didn't tally with what he had heard from Keane on the rows.

"Jon [Walters] is fine. Harry is perhaps not so fine. But I said to you before, you would have to ask whether that is the complete reason why Harry is not participating in these games this time. I think you probably know that anyway, because Harry has let that be known to a few people anyway, on the reasons that he has decided not to come.

"First of all the incidents took place at the end of May. They have surfaced months later. It's not the first altercation between players and staff. I had one with the man beside me on Friday (David Meyler) and he took it on board.

"Sometimes I think the game has changed. Players need to go out and prove the management wrong. If you're asking about Roy's criticism of players, this is my responsibility. I will take full responsibility of anything that goes on.

"We have lost two competitive games on the trot. In the previous 11 we lost one. I've capped eight players this year to get us ready.

"These two confrontations took place months ago, they happen all the time, I will be astonished if there isn't one between now and November."

O'Neill denied that the altercations had adversely affected his squad.

"We could not have reached the EURO's, we could not have performed in the manner we did in the World Cup campaign moving from 4th seeds to second place, unless the morale was sky high," he added.

Asked if Keane had any problems with any player in the setup: "I would have to say, absolutely not"

Arter has called a temporary halt to his Ireland career, telling manager Martin O'Neill that he would not return to the squad after the altercation with Keane.

Irish Independent

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