Ques­tion mark over Arter’s in­volve­ment af­ter Keane row

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer - EM­MET MALONE Soc­cer Correspondent

The FAI has de­clined to com­ment on the sug­ges­tion that Harry Arter has re­fused to be in­cluded in Martin O’Neill’s fi­nal squad for the Na­tions League game against Wales on Thurs­day and the friendly against Poland that fol­lows it as a re­sult of the row he had with Roy Keane at the start of the sum­mer.

Ire­land’s group in the new com­pe­ti­tion could be thrown into chaos, mean­while, by a dis­pute be­tween the Dan­ish play­ers and their as­so­ci­a­tion, with squad mem­bers cur­rently re­fus­ing to sign a new deal due a dis­agree­ment over com­mer­cial rights.

The play­ers have been hold­ing out for a bet­ter deal but have of­fered to play next Sun­day’s game against Wales un­der the terms of the old one if no agree­ment can be reached.

A re­sponse from the fed­er­a­tion was be­ing awaited but if no agree­ment can be reached it would throw the stag­ing of the game into doubt al­though the DBU is re­ported to be con­sid­er­ing at­tempt­ing to field play­ers from its league’s lower divi­sion if mat­ters are not re­solved.

Back in Dublin, O’Neill is due to an­nounce his trimmed down squad for the game this morn­ing af­ter train­ing and the re­ports sug­gest Arter is still an­gry over a train­ing ground bust-up that is al­leged to have in­volved Keane ques­tion­ing the amount of time that he and Jon Wal­ters had spent on the treat­ment ta­ble around the end-of-sea­son friendlies against France and the USA.

Al­ter­ca­tions

The team man­ager con­firmed last week that the ar­gu­ment hap­pened but de­clined to go into any de­tail re­gard­ing what it had been about and claimed that things had ul­ti­mately been re­solved.

“I’m not deny­ing there hasn’t been al­ter­ca­tions,” O’Neill said in an in­ter­view with the Daily Mir­ror. “But the sit­u­a­tion has def­i­nitely been de­fused and it’s just part of things.”

That re­mains to be seen but there is no sug­ges­tion that Wal­ters, who had his run-ins with Keane dur­ing the short time they were both at Ip­swich, will not be trav­el­ling to join up with the squad.

The 34 year-old, as it hap­pens, has just re­turned to the club and got a rare 90 min­utes un­der his belt yes­ter­day in the drawn game with Nor­wich. It may serve him and O’Neill well for Shane Long is a ma­jor doubt for the Wales game with a foot in­jury sus­tained in Southamp­ton’s 2-0 win at Crys­tal Palace.

The as­so­ci­a­tion is wait­ing for de­tailed re­sults of the scans he un­der­went af­ter the game but ap­par­ently the ini­tial signs are not good.

His ab­sence would be a blow, es­pe­cially when Sean Maguire and Scott Ho­gan are al­ready out through in­jury but there was some good news on the at­tack­ing side of things for O’Neill over the week­end with Alan Browne and Cal­lum Robin­son both scor­ing for Pre­ston in their 2-2 draw with Bolton Wan­der­ers.

Arter, mean­while, was one of just a hand­ful of pre­lim­i­nary squad mem­bers to get a full 90 min­utes in the Pre­mier League with Séa­mus Cole­man, Shane Duffy and Matt Do­herty the oth­ers. Ciaran Clark and Jeff Hen­drick started for New­cas­tle and Burn­ley re­spec­tively be­fore be­ing taken off in the sec­ond half while the likes of Kevin Long, Cyrus Christie and Greg Cun­ning­ham were un­used subs.

De­clan Rice was one too as West Ham lost again and the teenager is ru­moured to have tried his hand at mak­ing peace be­tween Keane and the play­ers when they had their row a few months ago.

If it turns out that Arter re­ally has de­cided to stay away so soon af­ter the 19-year-old asked for time to con­sider his in­ter­na­tional fu­ture, it would be a sig­nif­i­cant blow to O’Neill who can ill af­ford to have his op­tions fur­ther nar­rowed in mid­field.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: REUTERS

Harry Arter dur­ing the warm-up be­fore Cardiff City’s match against Arse­nal yes­ter­day.

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