There is a great irony in the storm brewing around Harry Arter. The midfielder has made himself unavailable for the Republic of Ireland’s Nations League opener against Wales according to reports.
His withdrawal centers on a disagreement with Roy Keane earlier this summer. Keane’s is thought to have questioned Arter’s injury record in the argument which also involved Jon Walters and then Declan Rice stepping in and trying to play peace maker.
Keane, a man who went home from a World Cup in 2002 after unleashing a verbal tirade against Mick McCarthy that included the line: “You’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager and I don’t rate you as a person."
McCarthy set Keane off by accusing him of feigning injury, for the Manchester United midfielder it was the greatest slight that could be leveled at a professional footballer. Keane's outburst ended his dreams of captaining his country at the World Cup:
"You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. I’ve got no respect for you. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.”
Martin O’Neill conceded last week that his assistant was involved in an altercation with Arter and Jon Walters in camp, ahead of the friendly against USA in June. The Daily Mail's Philip Quinn has more details as he writes that the incident happened in Dublin, where Keane is said to have made a snide remark about Arter's fitness. Rice stepped in to defuse the situation which resulted in Keane making disparaging comments to Rice.
“I’m not denying there hasn’t been altercations,” O’Neill said in an interview with The Daily Mirror. “But the situation has definitely been defused and it’s just part of things.
Arter actions seem to suggest otherwise if he has indeed decided not to report to camp this week. The midfielder's international career has been hampered with injury issues and while he was carrying a knock at the time of the summer friendlies he played 20 minutes against France and played the last 7 minutes of the win over the USA as a substitute.
Arter's name was absent from the final squad announced on Monday morning. He played the full 90 minutes for Cardiff City in yesterday’s Premier League loss against Arsenal and is fully fit to report for duty.
The story featured prominently on the sports pages and it was a topic touched on by Ger and Anthony Moyles on Monday's OTB AM.