The Rep of Ireland had an awful start to the Nations League campaign last week after being thrashed 4-1 by Wales in Cardiff.
To make matters worse for the team, a WhatsApp audio message made by Ireland defender Stephen Ward was publicly leaked yesterday which described his version of events in the Roy Keane, Arter and Jonathan Walters row last Summer. Ward’s version painted Roy Keane in a very bad light and it went onto describe that Keane called them lots of expletives as they did not take part in training under the advice by the FAI medical team, but Keane reportedly believed they were fit to play. Understandably, Ward is very apologetic about the leak and it is thought the original WhatsApp message was shared with a small group of old friends and that he feels “betrayed” over the incident.
This issue dominated tonight’s pre-match press conference, but Martin O’Neill told reporters; “I think there might be a bit of a reconciliation between Roy and Harry. Certainly, Roy is up for that,”. He was then asked if there was now a view that Keane went too far in his outburst at the midfielder, which was related to him sitting out training due to an injury. “That is a fair summation of it. I think it (reconciliation) could happen, and if it doesn’t… I think genuinely that it can happen. Roy is up for it, and the point you make is valid.”
The Ireland squad has been further hit with more injuries for tonight’s game, captain Seamus Coleman has a foot injury plus Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters will be sitting out tonight’s friendly with Poland. O’Neill has drafted in 22-year-old, Portsmouth striker Ronan Curtis for tonight’s game. Curtis, who has scored five goals in six games for Portsmouth this season after joining from Derry City.
But, between a decimated squad, player unrest and public controversy , it’s hard to see how Ireland could get one over the Poles tonight.