Question mark over Arter’s involvement after Keane row
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.
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.
Harry Arter during the warm-up before Cardiff City’s match against Arsenal yesterday.