Kelly insists Foley's agony can help bring tight-knit Irish squad 'closer together'
STEPHEN KELLY has admitted there was nothing any player could say to lift the spirits of Kevin Foley after he was dumped from Ireland's Euro 2012 squad on Tuesday.
The Wolves man was replaced by Paul McShane due to the latter's ability to cover the centre-half berth, and Kelly says it was a difficult time in the team hotel when the news broke.
Kelly himself suffered a wrist injury in the build-up to the finals, and was potentially vulnerable as Giovanni Trapattoni assessed his defensive options. He made the cut, but says that it was impossible to know what to say to Foley, who made his way home yesterday after stating that he felt "betrayed" by the Irish boss.
"It was a really tough day," said Kelly. "What can you say? Your heart just goes out to Kevin, you know. He's been in the squad for so long and to find out is very tough on him.
"You would be inhuman not to feel some sort of remorse about it and feel down. It was a credit to Kevin that he came back and played the second half (in Tuesday night's game with a Tuscan XI) and proved why he's always been in the squad and why he's been involved. He's a confident lad, but I'm sure he's feeling down at the moment. We've rallied around him and let him know that it's not the end of things."
Kelly pointed out there were other long-standing members of the group who will miss out on the finals, a consequence of Trapattoni's preference for larger squads for qualifying matches.
"You knew the manager was going to be faced with this kind of difficult decision going into the tournament because for most games, he picks 26 or 27 players, so a lot of lads have been left out. My room-mate Liam Lawrence isn't here and we've been rooming together for the last four years, so people you've built up really good relationships with have missed out.
"It's so unfortunate for Kevin to have got this far and having been named in the original 23, I'm sure it's that bit more hurtful to him. I just said 'sorry Kevin'. What can you say apart from 'sorry to hear, I'm disappointed for you'.
"All you can say is sorry, but words are going to be empty for him now from all of us, but all you do is put your arm around him and tell him to continue to keep on playing the way he does for his club.
"When he has played for Ireland, he has performed admirably so he just needs to continue in that vein and hopefully he'll come back a stronger player after what's happened."
In the bigger picture, however, the Fulham defender stressed that Foley's woe shouldn't have a negative impact on the group.
"Stuff like this does bring you closer together," he insisted, "because you kind of realise how fragile the whole thing is. Something like this can change the dynamics of things, but we are a really, really close team and we all get on so well together."
Richard Dunne also concentrated on the team angle in the wake of Tuesday's match, explaining that the group needed to believe in Trapattoni's judgment on a sensitive matter.
"It's very important that the manager makes these decisions and we trust him," he said. "It's unfortunate for Kevin, but we have to move on. Kevin will support us as he always does.
"We're such a tight unit that we don't want to see anyone left out. It was just the same with Keith Fahey last week."