Kenny Cunningham believes Stephen Kelly’s inclusion in the Republic of Ireland squad without further communication with manager Giovanni Trapattoni could be a ticking time bomb in the camp.
Kelly was named in a provisional 29-man squad for the matches with Sweden and Austria despite no contact between player and manager since a public argument last month over his availability for the World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands in October.
The defender issued a statement denying Trapattoni’s claim that he delivered a selection ultimatum for that match in the latest dispute between players and the Ireland boss.
Cunningham said on RTÉ's Premier Soccer Saturday last night: "We all read what Giovanni Trapattoni has said regarding Stephen and Stephen’s response - a very strongly worded statement which he issued. You could tell the anger with the tone of the statement and how disappointed he was with the manager’s comments.
"Following those comments, you would have thought the manager would have immediately contacted the player either personally or by phone to resolve the matter and put it to bed before the squad meets up.
"Clearly that hasn’t happened from the comments of the manager on Friday. That is potentially a ticking time bomb when Stephen comes into the hotel. It’s the last thing you need leading into two important games."
Cunningham feels it will not influence the selection process of reducing the squad by six players after an extended panel was named by Trapattoni, but pointed to the case of Darron Gibson’s omission as an example of unrest in the Irish group.
The RTE Soccer analyst stated: "Darron Gibson’s case is completely different. He is not making himself available, Giovanni Trapattoni doesn’t seem to be worried about it but everyone seems to be skirting around the issue.
"Clearly Darron Gibson doesn’t want to play for Ireland while Giovanni Trapattoni is still manager. It dates back to the summer and how he was treated by Trapattoni and how he felt he should have been used more within the tournament.
"He became totally disillusioned and stepped away from the squad. Again that seems to be a continuing issue between the manager and the player.
"I don’t think it helps in terms of the togetherness within the squad and the spirit leading into such important games. That is not even talking about player selection and the tactics employed by the manager.
"The very least we need going into these games is everybody together and everybody pulling together. That is just not the squad of players, it is the management team as well. Everybody need to pull in the right direction.
"It just seems that that dynamic between the manager in particular and a number of players and a number of the younger players seems to be a little bit strained and that is not ideal.”
Meanwhile, Trevor Steven was critical of the number of players chosen by Trapattoni, with six players set to be chopped from the list of 29 names.
He believes it will only add to problems faced by the Ireland boss.
Steven said: "I don’t see the reasoning for that. If you look at it from a player’s point of view, the disappointment is going to be there anyway should you not be in the squad.
"But the fact that you’re being posted up as being a potential for the squad and then you get let down, I don’t think that adds anything.
"I can’t get into Giovanni’s head to why he thinks that is a good idea. Players are used to not getting selected or getting selected.
"You don’t need to make these defining lines. It’s his decision and he has to stick it with now. That’s what it is.”