Mick McCarthy has offered his support to Richard Keogh, as the veteran Irish defender begins his recovery from the career-threatening knee injury which he sustained in a car crash last Tuesday night following which two of his Derby County teammates - Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett - were charged with drink-driving.
According to the club, Keogh, the team’s captain, had been involved in an extended drinking session which led up to the accident in which he was a passenger in a car when it crashed into a signpost.
“I rang him to see how he was and offered him my support as he’s a great guy and has been fabulous for me,” said McCarthy today.
“I know he has to have two operations on his medial and cruciate. They said 15 months and what is he, 33? It’s a long time to be out but he’s the sort of guy who will (look to come back), he’s a real determined character. He always impressed me playing against me and even more so as part of my team.”
Pressed about Keogh’s responsibility for what happened to him on the night, McCarthy said: "I just wonder if, ‘let he without sin cast the first stone’. He has been out for a drink with the lads, he is the captain of the team, he has got into the car with him and did not expect to be in that state at the end of the journey. People make decisions and they have to live with them unfortunately.”
Describing Keogh as “a wonderful player and a great bloke”, McCarthy said: "I read somewhere where it was said that footballers think that they can do what they like. No, they don't. They just go out for a drink and make decisions and make mistakes like anyone else does. And they are then highlighted and judged far more than other people.
"They are role models and they are influencers on social media and just through playing. And I fully accept that. And that's why they get penalised far more by the public, penalised by the rules and penalised by the police and everybody else when they do something wrong."
Asked if he was personally disappointed in Keogh, the Ireland manager replied: "I am disappointed that he is not playing in our games. No, as I said, he has done something and now has to live with it."
Speaking at the unveiling of his squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers away to Georgia and Switzerland, McCarthy said that he still has not entirely ruled out the possibility that Shane Duffy (calf) and David McGoldrick (groin) could recover from their injuries in time to be in contention either for both ties or, if not the match in Tbilisi on October 12, then the following game, in Geneva, on the 15th.
Although neither player has been named in today's squad, McCarthy said: “I have a bit of optimism until I’m told categorically no.”