Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni faces the axe as soon as the World Cup campaign is over after a public dispute too many with a senior player.
FAI officials are angry after Trapattoni publicly berated Reading defender Stephen Kelly and claimed the player would only turn up for his country if he was guaranteed to play.
Trap and Kelly had a bust-up before the World Cup qualifier in the Faroe Islands last autumn, and the Italian referred to it again in the wake of last week’s 2-0 friendly win over Poland.
Now Kelly has issued a statement taking exception to the manager’s claims. And an FAI spokesman has confirmed to the Irish media that Trapattoni faces a rebuke over his actions, just months after he almost lost his job after the 6-1 defeat at home to Germany.
Speaking about the Kelly incident, Trapattoni said, “You know what happened in the situation with Kelly? ‘I play or I go home.’ So go home.”
In a statement issued through his club, Kelly has said he was left “shocked and disgusted” at the manager’s comments.
Kelly stated, “It is extremely disappointing for me to have to make this statement. I am simply shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni.
“These hurtful and untrue comments have caused distress and upset to myself and my family who have supported me throughout my career and know the level of commitment and passion I have always shown in representing my country.
“I have proudly represented Ireland from the age of 16, and I have never shown anything other than 100 percent commitment to my country and my team.
“I cannot and will not tolerate attempts to defame my commitment and loyalty to Ireland. I will continue as always to proudly be available for my country.”
The FAI reacted to Kelly’s statement on Friday when they issued a comment of their own that offered little support to the manager.
Just months after backing Trapattoni in the wake of the criticism that followed the Germany defeat, the association is clearly running out of patience with the Italian.
The FAI’s own statement, issued by an official spokesman, said, “Of course Giovanni Trapattoni is a great manager and has achieved a lot, but the association would prefer if team matters like the one before the Faroe Islands match, which were reported yesterday, were dealt with in private.”
Seasoned observers have predicted that Trap’s latest row with a player, after similar disputes with Andy Reid, Stephen Ireland, Kevin Foley and James McClean, is the final straw for the association.
Even the bookies have got in on the act, with current Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy favorite to replace Trapattoni if Ireland lose the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria next month.