It is reported tonight that Manchester United are sending a private plane to fly Roy Keane from Ireland's world cup training base on the Pacific island of Saipan.

Meanwhile the Football Association of Ireland had defended the decision of the Republic of Ireland soccer team manager Mick McCarthy to send the side's captain Roy Keane home from the training centre on Saipan, just nine days before his team's first match in the tournament.

Speaking at a news conference at the Football Association of Ireland's headquarters in Dublin earlier, the FAI Honorary Treasurer John Delaney said his organisation fully supported Mick McCarthy's decision.

He said the FAI was concerned with the well-being of the entire squad. Mr Delaney also defended the preparations and resources for the World Cup provided by the FAI.

Mick McCarthy told a press conference that he had sent the captain home. He said he and the squad could not take any more disruption.

Other senior players in the squad have supported the managers decision. Niall Quinn, Alan Kelly and Steve Staunton also spoke at the news conference.

Quinn said that there had been talk of bravery, but running to the newspapers was not brave. Alan Kelly said that Keane had stepped over the line. The new Republic of Ireland captain, Steve Staunton, said that Keane's behaviour was unacceptable.

It is too late to add a replacement for Keane to the Ireland squad. The 22 names submitted to FIFA cannot be altered.

Announcing his retirement from the international scene, Keane had told RTÉ that it was hard to work with certain people at international level.

He said the training facilities at the team's pre-World Cup base in Saipan were “shocking” and “worse than a car park”. He said he wanted to do his country proud, but that it was difficult to work with people who did not have the same aims as him.

He had already threatened to return home from the tournament earlier this week after a row with staff at their training ground in Saipan, but was persuaded to stay on by Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson.

The Taoiseach said this evening he shared the disappointment of all Irish soccer fans that Roy Keane would not be participating in the World Cup in Japan. Mr Ahern said it was very unfortunate that events - which were not fully clear at this time - had conspired to deprive the Irish team of one of its great talents.