Roy Keane claims he has parked the mini-furore that arose over his criticism of some Irish players in Cork last week as the Republic of Ireland prepare for Wednesday’s flight to France ahead of the Euro 2016 opener against Sweden on Monday, writes Brendan O’Brien.
The assistant manager had strong words for some of the individual performances in the 2-1 defeat to Belarus last Tuesday evening with Martin O’Neill revealing earlier this week that Keane had apologised to the players involved.
Among them was Aiden McGeady whose career was the subject of a withering remark from the former Manchester United captain, but Keane refused to go into detail on the issue when asked about it on Tuesday lunchtime.
"I'm not going into what I say and don't say to the players privately. I've spoken to a few of the players, not just Aiden, and I've done that throughout my career. I've no problem in speaking to players, staff members, if I feel I've gone overboard.
“That isn't an issue for me. I'm not going into any sort of conversations I would have had with individuals or group of players. That's private, we move on, we get ready for next week.”
Keane was far more expansive on the subject when asked about it by newspaper reporters soon after, but there is an understandable eagerness to check in at their Versailles hotel and get the scent of the tournament in their nostrils.
“When we get over there tomorrow, we'll be glad of it. Countries are over there earlier, but they are playing before us. You feel it would be nice to get on the plane and get over there. Before you know it, you're straight into it.
“We have to remind ourselves to enjoy the next few days and then get down to serious business next week. You can see, yeah, the players will be ready for next week. There's only so much training you can do, sessions you can do, it is about games. “
Training has already begun to taper down as the side’s opening game at the Stade de France draws closer although there is worryingly no sign yet of Jonathan Walters returning to training as the first game approaches.
“He's feeling better in himself,” said Keane of the Achilles issue that was originally said to be a calf problem. “Not ideal of course. The medical staff looking after him but, again, think there has been improvement.
“Jon is a lot more positive about it and looking towards the end of week. Jon is a fit lad anyway, hopefully that won't be a problem for next week. The closer we get to the game, Jon would be the biggest worry.”
Walters didn’t take any part in the group training session at the National Sports Campus in Dublin on Tuesday. Neither did Robbie Brady who, Keane says, was “tempted” to join in having all but shrugged off a back spasm injury that has curbed his input so far this week.
Robbie Keane, however, did take part and Keane made it clear that he, O’Neill and the medical staff will be guided by any of the senior players when it comes to assessing their well-being ahead of the game against the Swedes.
“There's certain players you would wait a little bit longer for and Jon has probably earned that right, to get the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes when players come back from injury, it's down to how positive they are.
“Jon is dying to get back involved. He might have to be a bit more patient and wait towards the end of the week. He's one of the fittest lads in the group and we probably won't have more news until the end of the week so we're just playing it day by day.
“Jon has earned that right to wait as long as possible. It doesn't mean we wait until Sunday night, because you want to finalise teams etc and I'm sure the manager will make the right call. We have to trust Jon's opinion. A lot of it will come down to the player.”