Derby boss Cocu reveals Keogh’s knee injury is ‘due to alcohol-related incident’

Derby manager Phillip Cocu has revealed how a rained-off game of ‘foot golf’ escalated into a drinking session which saw his captain ruled out for the season and two senior players charged with drink driving.

Rams skipper Richard Keogh’s knee injury is believed to have been suffered in a car crash and the club have condemned the “alcohol-related incident” in which two other senior players – Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett – were charged with drink-driving on Tuesday night.

Cocu said plans to play foot golf as a team bonding session after training were changed due to persistent rain so the squad went bowling instead, followed by a team meal.

The Rams have revealed Republic of Ireland defender Keogh was among those who continued drinking and Cocu admitted his captain is “extremely down” and “feels responsible” for the incident.

Cocu, who has yet to decide whether Lawrence and Bennett could feature against Birmingham on Saturday, said: “The first idea was foot golf but the weather was really bad so we changed plans and went bowling.

“After that there was a team dinner where the team sat together for some bonding. Most of the players left around 8pm and a small group stayed and continued at the bar.

“Due to an alcohol-related incident we’ve lost our captain for the rest of the season, so in the end it was bad news for the whole team.

Derby’s Tom Lawrence (pictured) and team-mate Mason Bennett were charged with drink driving following a team bonding session.
Derby’s Tom Lawrence (pictured) and team-mate Mason Bennett were charged with drink driving following a team bonding session (Mike Egerton/PA Images).

“It’s bad news and a bad situation for everybody at the club.”

Cocu, who was not present at the meal, suggested there will be a range of disciplinary action taken against those involved but is eager to establish exactly what went on first.

Asked whether 33-year-old Keogh’s injury could even be career-threatening, the Dutchman simply reiterated it is “a very serious injury”.

“I’ve spoken to him,” he said. “He was here (at the training ground) for a short moment and I spoke briefly to him because there’s a lot going on.

“He’s extremely down, of course, because he realises what’s going on for him personally and of course as a responsible player, as captain, to not be part of the team any more does something to you.

“I think he feels responsible, yeah.

Derby boss Phillip Cocu has not decided yet if Tom Lawrence and Masno Bennett can start Derby's match at the weekend.
Derby boss Phillip Cocu has not decided yet if Tom Lawrence and Masno Bennett can start Derby’s match against Birmingham at the weekend (Bradley Collyer/PA Images).

“The more senior players always have to step up and take responsibility and it’s now had a huge effect on him personally. It’s a lot to deal with for him.”

A club statement said: “As a club, we cannot, and do not, condone the actions of a small group of players on Tuesday evening.

“The players were out as part of a scheduled team-building dinner with staff and while the majority of them acted responsibly and left at around 8pm and were not involved, a small group, including the team captain Richard Keogh, continued drinking into the night.

“They should have known when to stop and also ignored the opportunity to be driven home using cars laid on by the club, and chose to stay out.

“As a result of an alcohol-related incident, Richard Keogh has sustained a serious knee injury that will prevent him from playing until the end of the season.”

Lawrence and Bennett were charged with drink-driving after a crash involving a Range Rover Sport and a Mercedes shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

Derby’s statement continued:  “The players involved in the incident on Tuesday evening will be subject to a rigorous internal investigation under the club’s code of conduct and disciplinary procedures.”

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