Saturday 3 December 2016

Robbie Keane hoping to heap more misery on Gibraltar

Published 03/09/2015 | 20:24

Robbie Keane scored a hat-trick against Gibraltar in their last meeting
Robbie Keane scored a hat-trick against Gibraltar in their last meeting

In-form Robbie Keane is ready to heap the misery on Gibraltar once again after shaking off the injury problems which denied him the chance to shoot down Scotland.

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The 35-year-old Republic of Ireland skipper plundered a hat-trick inside 13 minutes as his team thumped the Euro 2016 Group D minnows 7-0 at the Aviva Stadium in October last year, but managed only 17 frustrating minutes as a substitute when the Scots left Dublin with a precious point in June with the after-effects of a groin injury hampering him.

However, Keane is back in business after blasting 12 goals in his last eight games for club LA Galaxy and is relishing the chance to add to his remarkable tally of 65 senior international goals at the Estadio Algarve in faro on Friday evening.

The Ireland captain said: "Obviously the last game, for the first time in my career I was out for more than four weeks - it ended up being two months, which is the longest it's ever been, so physically for the last game, I definitely wasn't right.

"I didn't feel as fit as I'd like to, playing only I think one game or two games, maybe, 30 minutes and 60 minutes, I think, before I came in with the squad, so I certainly wasn't fully fit.

"But I've had a good few months now since then. I've been fully fit, the team has obviously been doing well and personally, it's been going very, very well for me, so I certainly feel fit and raring to go."

Keane's distinguished career is undoubtedly drawing to a close, but the striker, who has established himself as one of the leading goalscorers in international football, insists retirement is simply not in his thoughts, for now at least.

He said: "It matters that I want to win every game I am involved in. I certainly won't be retiring before October, so I will be fully focussed on the next few months and these four games, concentrating fully on tomorrow and then we can have a conversation maybe next year or two years' time, if you want."

Ireland simply must beat Gibraltar and Georgia in Dublin on Monday evening if they are to maintain any hope of qualifying for next summer's finals in France, and having experienced a near thing in 2007 when the republic were almost embarrassed by San Marino, Keane will be taking nothing for granted.

He said: "That's certainly a game I always refer to - it was probably one of the worst performances we have played for a long time. But in the end, we managed to get the three points with a last-minute goal by Stephen Ireland, so that's why you always have to be cautious when you are playing these teams.

"If you look at the cups in England, there's always an upset somewhere, so we have to make sure that's not us."

Ireland will go into the game with five men - Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, James McClean, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson - just one booking away from a ban with Germany and Poland to come next month.

However, manager Martin O'Neill insists he wants those of them involved to forget about what might lie in store .

O'Neill said: "It is what it is and of course those players who are on two yellow cards, I would like to remind them just that there are some challenges that you would think might not be worth it; of course there are other ones that certainly would be.

"It is what it is. Some players get booked, as we have seen, now for innocuous things and it tallies up. But I cannot start predicting and worrying myself about anything that's happening."

Press Association

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