KEITH FAHEY has been given leave by Birmingham City to return to Ireland and deal with "personal and family" issues.
The Championship club made the announcement during Giovanni Trapattoni's post- Greece press conference in Abbotstown. Fahey had pulled out of the game with "the flu" according to the FAI, and the news appeared to take the Italian by surprise.
Birmingham boss Lee Clark said there is no timescale on when the midfielder will return to his employers, admitting it could be months rather than weeks. He refused to divulge specific details.
"It's compassionate leave," said Clark. "Whatever time it takes for that to get sorted we'll leave in Keith's hands.
"There's no timescale. Football is my life and I take it very seriously but the one thing that is more important than football is my family, so I'm very understanding with my players if there's a situation like this.
"I don't want to go there because it's far too private," added Clark with regard to the cause of Fahey's problem. "But it's not an issue and I've told Keith that however long it takes, if it's days, weeks or runs into a month or months, it's not a problem. He needs to get it sorted because you have to go on to a football field with a clear mind. Keith will decide when it's right for him to come back to the football club."
Fahey has been peripheral at Birmingham this term after a frustrating year where a groin complaint ruled him out of the European Championships.
He recently tweeted that he was not injured after he missed out on the subs' bench, hinting at unrest between himself and Clark over his non-involvement. The 28-year-old has made just seven appearances for his club this term, with three of those coming from the subs bench. He did start last month's World Cup thrashing at the hands of Germany but was withdrawn as Ireland chased the game.
The ex-St Patrick's Athletic man spent time with Arsenal and Aston Villa as a teenager but struggled with homesickness and came back to Ireland, where he almost dropped out of the sport.
Fahey received his second chance in England after a string of impressive performances in a second spell with the Inchicore outfit.