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Euro 2012: St Ledger 'gutted' for axed Foley





SEAN ST LEDGER has admitted that Kevin Foley's departure from the Ireland squad was probably the most difficult thing he's witnessed in football.

And the Ireland defender says that people would have to respect the Wolves man's wishes if he decided not to return to international football.

St Ledger is looking to move onwards and upwards as Ireland accelerate their Euro 2012 preparations with a friendly in Hungary on Monday.

However, he admitted that the Foley situation was unfortunate, while echoing team-mate Stephen Kelly's belief that it should make the rest of the group stronger.

"I've never been involved in something so heart-wrenching really," said St Ledger, as he reflected on the events of Tuesday and Wednesday.

"But you know, football throws these things up. I wouldn't wish that on anyone -- to be announced in the 23 and for that to happen. It's soul destroying for him. It is tough because everyone really really likes him.

"If it was me, I would be absolutely gutted and obviously he was very, very emotional. So, it is a tough one to call."

St Ledger, one of the central defenders with a minor injury which led to the need for Paul McShane as cover in that department, understands the manner in which Foley handled his departure. The 27-year-old is unsure whether he can play for Trapattoni again.

"I think Kevin dealt with it really well and in a dignified manner," said the Leicester man. "It was obviously very tough for him. It was a tough decision for the manager. And football is a cruel game.

"I am sure that when he goes back he will have a word with his family and talk it over and make the right decision. And I think you just have to respect that if he doesn't want to (come back). I think all the boys want him to because he is a great lad.

"But congratulations to Paul. He obviously came into the squad not thinking he would get here. But now he has and he has to try and make the most of the opportunity."

Richard Dunne's first-choice centre-half partner has allayed fears that he could be a concern for the finals. St Ledger was eased into last Saturday's win over Bosnia with a groin problem, but he looked fine in the friendly with a local select.

He attributes the injury to a high concentration of training coming so soon after a long break at the end of his league season in April.

"It was minor," he said. "I needed a day because we had done quite a lot of training. Obviously, we had a few weeks off, so then coming in might have been that little bit too much. So, I had that day off and I feel fine now."

While St Ledger appreciates the football value of the Budapest trip, there is one problem. "I keep having to pack my bags all the time, which is a nightmare," he grinned. "But we'll go there trying to win and keep our confidence high."

Irish Independent