Wednesday 24 January 2018

Roy Keane and Aiden McGeady spoke face-to-face to address Ireland assistant's withering criticisms

Damian Spellman

Last week proved to be an eventful trip to Cork for the Ireland team, with assistant manager Roy Keane making headlines with his scathing assessment of his side's performance in their 2-1 defeat by Belarus at Turner's Cross last Tuesday evening.

Keane said at one point, he wanted to "kill" some of the players, while winger Aiden McGeady came in for particular criticism for a lacklustre display.

However, Ireland boss Martin O'Neill today revealed the former Manchester United and Ireland skipper had since spoken to McGeady face-to-face.

He said: "Roy's already had a word with him. Roy's words were slightly on the strong side. Any pieces of criticism the players get from Roy or myself they take on board or dismiss it accordingly.

Read more: Martin O'Neill apologies over 'queers' remark made at the Cork Opera House

"The reaction of the players, I have to say, has been very strong. If the Belarus game was a bit of blip with some of the players being a bit rusty, then that's absolutely fine.

"It was a godsend to have that game because some of the players hadn't played much football and needed it."

On the training field, there was mixed news for O'Neill as he and the squad prepare to fly out to France on Wednesday.

Skipper Robbie Keane, who has been nursing a calf problem, was able to warm-up with his team-mates, but utility man Robbie Brady joined Jonathan Walters, who also has a calf injury, on the sidelines after hurting his back over the weekend.

O'Neill said: "Robbie Keane did a little bit of work - he's improving by the day, which is good news. Jon Walters has had a bit of a problem for the last few days, but he's feeling a good bit better.

"He didn't participate in training today and probably won't tomorrow either, and we'll see what he's like when he gets to France. Robbie Brady suffered a back spasm at the weekend and didn't train today."

Asked if Keane remains on course to be fit for next Monday's opener against Sweden, the manager added: "I don't know if he will be available for Sweden, I couldn't tell you. But he's definitely improving."

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