Last Updated: 31/10/19 6:56pm
Derby manager Phillip Cocu says the club’s sacking of Richard Keogh following the defender’s involvement in a drink-driving incident has made it hard for his squad to focus on football.
The 33-year-old defender suffered a knee injury likely to rule him out until December 2020 in what the club described as an “alcohol-related incident” in September also involving team-mates Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence following a team night out.
“I think for everybody it’s a difficult and hard situation of course,” Cocu said in his press conference ahead of Derby’s match with Middlesbrough on Saturday.
“For the moment I just cannot go into the matter, still ongoing, still in process and it’s been a club decision.
“It’s very complicated but we have to make sure we try to focus on our game on Saturday, and we cannot go by that easily because Richard of course has been here for a long time.”
Bennett, 23, and Lawrence, 25, pleaded guilty to drink-driving, and were ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, given a 12-month community order and disqualified from driving for two years, following the incident.
The pair were also fined six weeks’ wages by Derby and given 80-hour community service orders.
Sky Sports News understand Derby have dealt with each of the three players on an individual basis, taking into account personal circumstances and outside influences that affected the decisions made on the night of the incident.
Meanwhile, Keogh’s position of responsibility as club captain is also understood to have led to him being treated differently.
The Republic of Ireland defender is expected to lodge an appeal over his dismissal, which is understood to be the reason Derby’s board have yet to provide more details on their decision.
“It’s not up to me to give any reasons,” Cocu added.
“The club at the moment they can, will clarify why, but because it’s a club matter it’s not up to me to give any response on it.”