Ireland defender Stephen Kelly is hoping Kevin Foley’s Euro 2012 heartache can help galvanise his teammates for the tournament.
The Wolves full-back was told yesterday that he will not be going to Poland and Ukraine after all following manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s 11th-hour decision to permanently elevate Paul McShane from his stand-by list because of his ability to also cover the centre-half position.
That proved a devastating blow for Foley, who had been named in the initial 23, and although he played in the second half of last night’s 5-0 friendly victory over a Tuscan Select XI in Pistoia, he later indicated that he would not accept Trapattoni’s offer to remain with the squad as they finalise their preparations for the Euros.
Kelly admitted the 27-year-old’s disappointment had been shared by his colleagues, but hopes it could help to mould them into an even tighter group.
He said: “It’s very hard to put into words. It’s obviously heart-breaking for Kevin to be involved this far up and then get that news.
“All we can do is say sorry and pat him on the back. It’s one of those things in football.
“Football does give people blows and knocks and knocks people down. It’s a very difficult situation to take.
“We are all very close and we are all extremely disappointed for him, but that’s the nature of the beast.
“With the way these tournaments are. The manager has always had 26, 27 players in the squad and there have always been whispers that the manager would have to cut it down at some point.
“For Kevin to have been in the initial 23 and be out of it now, it’s extremely disappointing.
“But all we can do is offer him our condolences and wish him the best.
“I am sure we will all be thinking about him when we are away, and it might galvanise us together as a team as well.”
The support for Foley was clear during last night’s game when his free-kick was parried to Jon Walters, who converted the rebound for Ireland’s final goal, and he was mobbed by his sympathetic teammates.
McShane, of course, spent the day attempting to deal with starkly mixed feelings – joy at his own inclusion, but sorrow for the man who had to miss out to accommodate him.
The 26-year-old had not expected the scenario which unfolded yesterday when he was asked to join up amid a defensive injury crisis ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin.
McShane said: “I just turned up to the squad I didn’t expect anything. I just turned up because I was called upon and I wanted to come and train with the lads.
“I started against Bosnia and now have been put in the 23. I never really expected it, but I was sort of always preparing mentally just in case I was called upon.
“I am happy to be there, but at the same time, I am also disappointed for Kevin. I wasn’t expecting it, but football is a funny game sometimes.
“Probably if I was sitting by the phone waiting for a call, it wouldn’t have come, so I just went about my business and did what I did, and the call came.”
Both men were informed of Trapattoni’s decision at around 11.30am, and McShane found himself torn.
He said: “I was told then and I was happy, but the minute I was told, I thought of Kev straight away because it is disappointing for him – I think he had family coming over.
“But football is a cruel sport sometimes. I am happy deep down, but at the same time, I do feel for Kev.”
The players were given a day off today and, while for some that meant a trip to the golf course, Kelly had other plans.
He said: “Maybe a little rest and maybe a trip into Florence to see the sights.
“I have never been to Italy before, so it will be an opportunity to steep myself in the history and brush up on the Renaissance, so I will be looking forward to that.”