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Harry Arter questions all but 'one or two players' for role in O'Neill's Ireland demise

The midfielder believes Martin O’Neill deserved more credit for his success with Ireland between 2014 and 2016.

Ireland midfielder Harry Arter
Ireland midfielder Harry Arter
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

HARRY ARTER BELIEVES it is time for the Ireland players to pull their weight after Martin O’Neill paid the price for their shocking run of results.

New manager Mick McCarthy will learn Ireland’s fate at the Euro 2020 qualifying draw in Dublin on Sunday.

And Arter has told his teammates to shape up and shoulder the responsibility of leading the team’s revival by putting their Nations League disappointment behind them to seal their place at another major tournament.

“I think we can get out of the abyss we’ve fallen into,” said Arter. “There is a transition period player wise if you look at the squad now, there is no Robbie Keane or Damien Duff screaming out at you, players who were game changers for us.

“We haven’t really got that at the minute we need to unite as a squad and as a country and focus on performing better.

“It’s not been great recently but I’m sure Mick McCarthy will have new ideas. He’ll expect a reaction off the players and if I’m picked in March then I’ll be very excited to go over there and try to put things right.

“I certainly feel a responsibility for letting down Martin O’Neill, I’m not sure about the other players.

I think it’s very easy for players to blame managers when results haven’t gone well but I think the most important thing is for players to be able to look in the mirror when they come off the pitch and say they had done everything can today. I’d say for the last year or so maybe only one or two players can say that.

Martin O'Neill with Harry Arter Harry Arter and Martin O'Neill shake hands as Arter is withdrawn against Denmark in the Nations League Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Arter is hoping to play a key role under McCarthy, who returns to the role 16 years after taking Ireland to the 2002 World Cup.

Robbie Keane has joined his coaching staff as the former Ipswich manager plots their route to Euro 2020 before handing the reigns over to new Under-21s manager Stephen Kenny.

Arter’s bust up with O’Neill’s former assistant Roy Keane led to a spell out in the cold. But the on-loan Cardiff City star has wished Keane all the best after the two midfielders buried the hatchet.

“I’m very grateful for Martin for giving me my debut when I was in the Championship,” he added.

Up until now, I am a tad disappointed with how my Ireland career has gone just through injuries and performances haven’t been as good as I would have liked.

“I feel Martin’s successes for Ireland have been unbelievable, some of the games I’ve been involved in, like Germany at home, stick out.

“Then qualifying for the Euros was a lot harder than people expected, Martin deserved a lot more credit and a lot more praise for what he did for this group of players.

“He is someone who picked me every time I was fit and I wish him the best in anything he wants to do next.

“Will they find jobs back in clubs? I know Martin will be eager to get back into football at some point, he still definitely has that passion.

I’m not sure what Roy wants to do next in the game, whether he wants to be a manager, he has experienced that in the past. He’s gone on to be a coach and he’s done some punditry so I’m not sure what he wants to do but I wish him the best.

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James Candy

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