Former Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy criticised over comments about crash involving Derby players

Mick McCarthy, pictured here when he was manager of Ipswich Town, had defended Derby County star Ric

Mick McCarthy, pictured here when he was manager of Ipswich Town, had defended Derby County star Richard Keogh. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Former Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has faced criticism for comments made about a road crash involving a number of Derby County players.

McCarthy, who now manages the Republic of Ireland, was asked in a press conference about Irish international star Richard Keogh after his club Derby County confirmed the defender would be out of action for 15 months with damage to two knee ligaments.

Team captain Keogh sustained the injuries in a car crash, after which team-mates Tom Lawrence - who previously played on loan at Ipswich - and Mason Bennett were charged with drink driving. Keogh was a passenger in one of the cars.

When asked about Keogh in a press conference, McCarthy said he was "a wonderful player and great bloke" and that he was "disappointed he's not playing in any other games".

McCarthy said that footballers are "highlighted and judged far more than other people" but said: "Actually they make mistakes like everybody else does."

He added: "They are role models and they are influencers on social media and things like that.

"That's why they get penalised far more."

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However, McCarthy's comments were criticised on social media for not taking a hard enough line on the incident.

Derby said last week they had fined Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett the "equivalent of six weeks' wages" and condemned the pair for bringing the club into disrepute following the "alcohol-related incident" of September 24.

Midfielder Lawrence, 25, and forward Bennett, 23, were charged with drink-driving after a crash in Derby's Allestree area.

Following a disciplinary hearing into the incident, Derby fined both players the "maximum contractual limit" and told them to serve an "additional 80 hours of community and rehabilitation", which includes a drink aware course.

A statement on the club's official website read: "The club will not tolerate any of its players or staff behaving in a manner which puts themselves, their colleagues, and members of the general public at risk of injury or worse, or which brings the club into disrepute.

"Both Lawrence and Bennett are therefore being fined the equivalent of six weeks' wages - the maximum contractual limit - and will serve an additional 80 hours of community and rehabilitation, which will include a drink aware course.

"The club will be making no further comment regards this matter."

Bennett and Lawrence will appear in court to answer charges of drink-driving on October 15.

Bennett said: "On the night of Tuesday, September 24, I made huge mistakes after consuming alcohol. What I did was wrong.

"Being a footballer and someone who young fans look up to I know the example I set is key. I am ashamed. At 23 I am old enough, and I was brought up, to know better.

"I understand that such actions have serious consequences. I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the punishment that the club has issued.

"I have to and will learn from these events and will strive to be a better person.

"There's no excuse for what I've done. I'm sorry to my family, my friends, the club, all Derby supporters and to the wider football community, I let you all down."