Sunderland have started an internal disciplinary process against Darron Gibson after footage emerged of the midfielder criticising team-mates in a bar.
The Ireland international was recorded in conversation with fans following a 5-0 friendly defeat to Celtic and offered some frank and at times foul-mouthed verdicts on the commitment levels of some in the dressing room and the overall state of the club.
The Black Cats said in a statement: “Darron Gibson has not conducted himself in a manner befitting Sunderland Football Club. As a consequence, we will initiate our internal disciplinary process to deal with the matter. Darron has apologised this morning.”
Gibson was a second-half substitute in the match, arriving with the scoreline already at 5-0, and was filmed debating with supporters, seemingly under the influence of alcohol.
The 29-year-old, repeating one fan’s assessment, said “we’re fucking shit” and even suggested “there are too many people at the club who don’t give a fuck”.
Having asked the group to name those he was referring to he replied “there’s one” when Lamine Kone was identified and “next one” to suggestions of Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazri.
When Gibson’s decision to be out in a bar soon after the Celtic loss was raised, he replied: “I might be off my face in here but I still want to play for Sunderland.”
Gibson made 12 appearances for the Black Cats after signing from Everton in January.
Meanwhile, fears James McClean could be a doubt for next month’s World Cup qualifiers have been allayed after a scan showed that he suffered nothing more serious than a bruised kneecap when forced out of West Brom’s friendly against Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
McClean had limped out of the action in the 48th minute, with West Brom manager Tony Pulis initially expressing concern about the possible extent of the problem, amid speculation the player could be sidelined for a number of weeks.
“James is the most concerning at the moment because it is in the knee area and we’ll get that scanned to see what that tells us,” Pulis had said.
But happily for Pulis — and Ireland manager Martin O’Neill — the subsequent scan revealed nothing worse than a bruised kneecap and, although McClean will miss Albion’s penultimate friendly against Port Vale tonight, he should be able to figure when they wrap up their pre-season preparations in Spain against Deportivo on Saturday.
The news will come as a relief to O’Neill, with next month’s back-to-back qualifiers away to Georgia and at home to Serbia now looming large.
McClean had already been cleared to play in the game in Tbilisi by Fifa after they opted to reprimand — rather than ban — the player and the Ireland manager for their criticisms of the Spanish referee’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Austria at the Aviva in June.
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