AN ANGRY Glenn Whelan has torn into his Stoke City team-mates after their dreams of another FA Cup run ended with a dismal defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
The Ireland midfielder was part of the Stoke side which reached the FA Cup final in 2011, where they lost to Manchester City, but their Cup run this season has ended prematurely with Saturday's rout by lower league opposition.
A dreadful day could have been even worse for Whelan as he was shown a red card in injury time by referee Anthony Taylor, the ref mistakenly under the impression that Whelan had already been booked.
And although a quick chat with the fourth official cleared that up and spared Whelan what would have been only his second sending-off since 2005, the gloom did not lift for the Stoke skipper who didn't hold back in his criticism.
"It was terrible. It was the worst performance I've ever seen a Stoke City side put out. We didn't want to fight or do the basics," said Whelan.
"We weren't prepared to work hard enough. It's ok when things are going well, we've got good players then, but when you want to fight and you want to knuckle down maybe, we haven't got enough in the dressing room.
"Hopefully ,the manager has seen that on Saturday and will show it next week because it's just not good enough - as a team, as an 11. Players didn't really want to be out there and you could see that after the first 10 minutes. Credit to Blackburn they deserved to go through," added Whelan.
Stoke were missing key men for the Cup tie, and it will be of some concern to Ireland boss Martin O'Neill that both Jon Walters and Marc Wilson are on the absent list, but missing players is no excuse for Whelan.
"Injuries are an easy excuse. We've still got 11 players to go out and give Blackburn a game," he said. "We were 1-0 up but we gave away sloppy goals and it was really disappointing today because we thought we could go on and do something.
"We've sat down and had words between ourselves but that will stay within the dressing room. It's not nice coming away from a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in midweek but you think ok, it's the champions. Not against Blackburn, no disrespect. They fully deserved to win and I don't think they had to work very hard to get it.
"What the manager has said will stay in the dressing room. Things have been got off chests. It doesn't matter how good a player you are if you are not prepared to put the work in; the hard yards and the graft. If you don't do that then you don't deserve to be wearing the jersey.
"We have to keep our season going, get our standards up and make sure the season does not slip us by because we can still achieve something this year."
While Saturday was a bad day for Whelan, his Ireland team-mate Shane Duffy has reasons to smile as he came back into the Blackburn side after a four-game absence, due to loss of form, to help out with the win.
Derry lad Duffy had high hopes when he joined Blackburn from Everton at the start of the season and the initial reports from his form at Ewood Park were good. But Duffy has struggled in recent times and last month he was dropped by boss Gary Bowyer, a decision which Duffy said was deserved.
"I know by my own standards I haven't been good enough," Duffy said at the time. "I've been disappointed with myself and I fully deserved not to be in the team. It's football. One week you can be the worst player in the world and the next you can be the best.
"You've just got to keep believing in your own ability but obviously confidence does play a big part," added Duffy, keen to see his Ireland career progress.
Initially called up by Giovanni Trapattoni, he made his senior debut against Costa Rica last summer but has not featured in recent squads.