The Republic of Ireland have applied to FIFA for special dispensation to call up Celtic’s Colin Healy as a replacement for Roy Keane, who last night announced he will not rejoin the squad.

Keane, sent home after a furious row with manager Mick McCarthy, said last night: “I do not consider that the best interests of Irish football will be served by my returning to the World Cup. The damage has been done.”

Had the Manchester United midfielder apologised to McCarthy, the door would have been open for his return,but despite manoeuvring by players and officials, saying sorry proved too much.

Ireland’s request to bring in Healy is unlikely to be sanctioned. FIFA rules only allow players to be replaced for reasons of injury or special circumstances, such as a family bereavement.