Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland has withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad for the upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers because he "would not do his country or himself justice".It did appear as though Ireland had put the previous incident behind him, and his form has been excellent since being restored to the line-up following his ommission against Aston Villa - and Sven-Goran Eriksson was praising him only today in the MEN.
The news comes as a further blow for manager Steve Staunton for the Group D meetings at Croke Park with Germany on Saturday and Cyprus four days later following full-back Stephen Carr's withdrawal earlier today with a hamstring problem. -independent.ie
Still, it is difficult to gage a persons mind and Ireland clearly did not feel he could either himself or the Irish team justice for their upcoming double-header against Germany and Cyprus. Although both games are at home, perhaps there is an issue with Ireland being away from home for a period of time - something experienced (although on a far larger scale) by cricketer Marcus Trescothick:
"I have thought long and hard about whether I would do my country and myself justice if I joined up with the squad," said Ireland. "Unfortunately, I don't believe I would on this occasion. The support I have received from [the Republic of Ireland manager Steve] Staunton and the FAI has been excellent and everybody at Manchester City has also been superb. However, I do not believe I can make a positive contribution to our efforts to qualify."
All we can hope from this issue is that Ireland manages to resolve whatever issues he does have and manages to continue both his club and international career.