• Kelly said 'I play or I go home' before Poland game - manager
• 'I will not tolerate attempts to defame my loyalty' says defender

Stephen Kelly hit back at Giovanni Trapattoni after the Republic of Ireland manager questioned his commitment to the national team, saying he "would not tolerate attempts to defame my loyalty".

Trapattoni told reporters on Thursday that Kelly, left out of the Ireland squad for the friendly against Poland last week, had indicated he would not turn out unless he was guaranteed to play.

"You know what happened with Kelly?" Trapattoni told a media conference in the wake of Ireland's 2-0 win. "[He said} 'I play or I go home.' So go home."

Kelly said he had been "shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni".

"It is extremely disappointing for me to have to make this statement," the Reading player said in a statement. "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% commitment to my country and my team. I cannot and will not tolerate attempts to defame my commitment and loyalty to Ireland.

"It saddens me greatly that I should have to defend my good character and reputation in a profession I love, however, I refuse to allow anyone to question my passion for representing Ireland. I will continue as always to proudly be available for my country."

Kelly, who has won 32 caps, had a fierce argument with Trapattoni's assistant Marco Tardelli during a training session before a World Cup qualifier in October. He last played for Ireland against Oman in September.


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Filed under: Euro 2012

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