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Saturday 10 December 2016

Roy Keane tells Republic of Ireland players to look to the future

Published 02/09/2016 | 15:06

Roy Keane
Roy Keane

Roy Keane has warned the Republic of Ireland their Euro 2016 heroics are history as they embark on a new World Cup qualifying campaign.

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The Republic get under way with a tough match in Serbia on Monday and have been buoyed by their emergence from the group stage in France, which was secured with a dramatic victory over Italy, and the fright they gave the hosts in the last 16.

However, while that positivity has strengthened confidence within the camp, Keane knows it will count for nothing when they they walk out in Belgrade, two years on from the first qualifier of manager Martin O'Neill's reign in Georgia.

Asked if they had to start again, assistant manager Keane said: "It seems like yesterday we were starting in Georgia, but we are professional people, we have got to get switched on and get ready and whatever has gone on in the last year or two, whatever the plaudits people might have received, it's the nature of the business we are in, it's history now.

"We have got to move on and we have got to try to get a positive result and certainly a positive performance on Monday, and hopefully the result will take care of itself.

"We have moved on. There's no issue of looking back - you can't do in this game, it's history. Whether you have a good day or a bad day, you have got to try to move on.

"The Euros seems like 100 years ago, it's gone."

The squad will leave Dublin on Saturday without injured midfielder James McCarthy, who has returned to Everton, and with Robbie Keane and Shay Given no longer among the ranks following their retirements from international football, in Given's case for the second time.

Keane admits the experienced pair, who won 280 senior caps between them, will be sorely missed, but is confident new leaders will emerge from the pack.

He said: "These lads have been fantastic and they'll be huge losses to the country. Honestly, I can't tell you how much we'll miss them on the pitch, off the pitch.

"But it's up to the other young lads now to come through and some of the other senior players to take over from Robbie and Shay, whether it be when we are travelling or in the dressing room, whatever it might be.

"Yes, I think there are enough lads coming through and enough lads in the background, and we still have plenty of senior players, John O'Shea, the Glenn Whelans of this world.

"Listen, they know the game, they have been around a long time and as much as we will miss the lads, we just have to embrace the new players coming through and hopefully they'll take over that responsibility that Shay and Robbie carried for a long time."

Seamus Coleman was handed the captain's armband in France when Keane and John O'Shea were left out of the starting XI, and he remains the big doubt having not yet played for his club Everton this season because of an ankle injury.

Both Coleman and O'Shea, who is recovering from a hip problem, trained at Abbotstown on Friday morning, but completed only a light session.

Keane said: "I think Sheasy (O'Shea) will be fine. The big question mark would be over Seamus and we will have a better idea, certainly if there is no reaction and after the flight, over the next 48 hours, so we are hopeful."

Keane was in combative mood as he was questioned about McCarthy's fall from favour at club level and the fact that his and O'Neill's new contracts remain unsigned, and accused one reporter of living in "cuckoo land".

He said: "Don't let that keep you awake tonight. It's not an issue, not for me, anyway. It's no big deal, honestly. You lads have got to stop worrying about this stuff, James McCarthy, contracts... It's all good."

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