Martin O'Neill confirms training ground spat between Roy Keane and Harry Arter as player opts out
HARRY Arter’s international career with the Republic of Ireland could well be over after 13 appearances following a bust-up with assistant manager Roy Keane in June – while boss Martin O’Neill insisted Declan Rice’s decision to re-consider his international options was not linked to the altercation involving Keane, Arter and Jonathan Walters.
O’Neill confirmed Arter was taking a break from international football and acknowledged the player’s spat with Keane was probably linked to his decision not to be part of Thursday’s Nations League clash with Wales in Cardiff on Thursday and next week’s friendly trip to Poland.
It is understood Keane had a training ground row with Arter and Walters in the run-up to the June friendly with the United States.
Two months has passed and it appears opinions over the row have hardened.
O’Neill didn’t try to hide that there was a problem between his assistant and the on-loan Cardiff City player.
"That may be part of the reason, it could well be, if that's the case,” O’Neill responded to Arter’s absence from the squad.
O’Neill didn’t seem too perturbed about Arter’s decision to withdraw and wouldn’t rule out inviting him back into the fold at a later time.
"I'm the manager. I respect his decision. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I've respected it,” O’Neill said.
"I did tell Harry that having a fall-out with management, I was the right person to talk to - I had about 15 years of it. I used to lose all arguments with [Forest boss] Mr [Brian] Clough, but I ended up winning two European Cups."
He added: "I know it's the old cliched phrase to say these things, but these things happen.
"In my time as a manager, I think I've succeeded in forming a pretty vibrant group who for the vast majority of players actually want to play for the team, want to play for each other and naturally want to play for themselves. There are exceptions."
It was hoped Arter would quickly evolve into Ireland’s midfield lynchpin but his performances have been generally patchy on the international stage with the high point coming against Wales in last year’s World Cup Qualifier in Cardiff.
Bournemouth loaned the 28-year-old to Premiership newcomers Cardiff City this season where he has started in three of their four league outings to date.
O'Neill added: "He's got a number of things to consider. He's got a fresh start with Cardiff now. Bournemouth were happy enough to let him go out on loan and it's a start for him again, so there are a number reasons."
O’Neill, though, refuted suggestions that Rice’s decision to consider declaring for England after starring in three friendly games for the Republic was linked to the training ground spat between Keane and Arter.
"No. Not an ounce of truth in that, at all," said the manager.
"It’s got nothing to do with it. I’m glad you asked me it, as it offers me a chance to knock it on the head. It’s totally untrue."
Shane Long is ruled out with foot injury, leaving Walters as Ireland's only fit striker for the Welsh tie.
Republic of Ireland squad: Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle (Hearts), Sean McDermott (Kristiansund BK), Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (Burnley), John Egan, Enda Stevens (Sheffield United)
Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), David Meyler (Reading), Daryl Horgan (Hibernian), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City)
Forwards: Jonathan Walters (Ipswich Town), Graham Burke, Callum Robinson (Preston North End), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall)