Ireland defender John Egan said he was disappointed to see so many people jump down Callum Robinson's throat after the Ireland forward admitted that he had not been vaccinated.
Speaking in Dublin ahead of the squad’s departure to Baku for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, Robinson said that he was yet to get the Covid jab despite contracting the virus on two occasions.
Sheffield United defender, Egan, was speaking at the pre-match press conference in Baku and said he believed that Robinson has been vilified for giving an honest answer to the question.
"I suppose first and foremost, Cal was asked a question, he gave an answer," said Egan.
"He didn't come out and say he was against the vaccination or anything, so I was quite disappointed to see how many people jumped down his throat.
"Everybody can choose whether to get the vaccination or not it's a personal choice.
"As a team-mate as a friend, I back my team-mates, I back my friends.
"It doesn't mean that I believe the same way, it doesn't mean that everybody is going to believe the same way, but I don't think Cal came out and said he was against the vaccine, he simply just answered a question and said he hasn't had it yet.
"Hopefully now he can kick on with Ireland and do well."
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny was also quick to speak up for the underfire West Brom man and insisted that Robinson was a very popular member of the squad and was, in fact, "a breath of fresh air".
Kenny also said that Robinson had not been affected by the situation and neither had talk of vaccinations dominated the conversation around the camp.
"What I can say about Callum Robinson is that he's such a popular member of the squad. He's a breath of fresh air," said Kenny.
"He always comes in with a smile on his face, he's infectious, he brings laughter to the dressing room, people love him. He has great qualities as a man, great qualities as a human being.
"He has attracted a lot of criticism because he just came into a press conference and where the vast majority of players refuse to answer the questions, he was open and transparent and he has been vilified for it.
"But he is a terrific person and I think all of the players would verify that. They really speak so well of him and he's a very, very popular member of the squad."
In team news, there were concerns around the fitness of Adam Idah and Jason Knight, however, the manager confirmed that while both were ill on arrival, they are in contention to feature on Saturday night, but will be monitored at training on Friday evening at the stadium.
"They're fine. They're no hint of any coronavirus at all. They're okay," said Kenny.
"They've both travelled to the stadium this evening, they're both fine. We don't know whether they're strong enough to play – we'll have to see how they train and make decisions after that.
"It’s nothing to be concerned about. They've passed all the relevant tests that they need to, and in that regard, there's nothing to be concerned about, so it's just whether they're well enough and feel strong enough to play."
Follow Azerbaijan v Republic of Ireland via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player, or listen to commentary on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.
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