Belfast Telegraph

Rep of Ireland v Austria: Roy Keane blast at Everton as Mac row rumbles on

By Daniel McDonnell

The bad days linger in Roy Keane's memory. In the midst of the latest instalment of 'Ireland v Everton, The Injury Wars', Martin O'Neill's assistant wanders slightly off topic to wonder aloud when the Merseyside club last actually won a trophy.

He is reminded that it's the 1995 FA Cup Final, a game where he was a part of the losing Manchester United side.

"I was out there, yeah, and they were the luckiest team on the planet that day," he says, almost breaking into a laugh. "They bloody were. We missed about 10 chances."

The Republic of Ireland's summer international break in 1995 was frustrating too. Fittingly, in the context of this week's discussions, it culminated with a costly defeat at home to Austria that followed a catastrophic draw with Liechtenstein.

Keane was absent for both those matches with a delayed hernia operation ruling him out. That was a campaign where his regular unavailability exasperated Jack Charlton.

When he lined out for Manchester United three days after missing a qualifer with Latvia, Charlton spoke about his frustration.

"I could pick up the phone and ask Alex (Ferguson) what's going on but I'd probably lose my temper and end up shouting down the line at him."

Keane is on the other side of the fence now. He knows it too and understands James McCarthy's position, the difficulty of a club manager telling a player not to report for Irish service because of an injury doubt. "I have experienced that myself," he said.

The Cork man spoke at length about the problems between the Republic camp and Everton which pre-date Ronald Koeman's arrival at Goodison Park. O'Neill and Keane didn't have much love for Roberto Martinez either.

Koeman was unhappy with the Republic camp pitching in McCarthy last month and Seamus Coleman in September when they were coming off injury breaks. Keane's point is that Everton should be wondering why their first team squad always seem to have fitness concerns with Darron Gibson's name thrown into the mix.

"They get lots of injuries with players who aren't playing international football," said Keane.

"They are lucky to have the Irish players that they have there and Everton have always had brilliant Irish lads doing well for the club so they shouldn't be so quick to stop Irish players.

"If you are a half decent club, then you expect your players to be going away playing international football because you would like to think that is the status of your club," he added.

"Lots of players have missed qualifying matches and have been fit for their clubs a couple of days later. We've had to take our medicine in that side of it."

He didn't mention anybody by name, but that has happened with Harry Arter.

Ironically, it's the Bournemouth man that is poised to benefit from McCarthy's withdrawal.



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