Roy Keane says Gareth Bale is good enough to wreck Ireland's best laid plans to stop him
Roy Keane has said it is pointless trying to come up with a plan for the Republic of Ireland to stop Gareth Bale because the Wales star will just ruin it.
Ireland take on Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night knowing a win would put them seven points clear of Chris Coleman’s side with five games remaining in their World Cup qualification campaign.
As a result, Bale’s return from injury could not have come at a worse time for Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Keane, who have, in turn, lost several key players to injury and suspension in the build up to this week’s mouth-watering international clash.
There had been a possibility the Real Madrid star would miss the short trip across the Irish Sea after he had an operation to solve an ankle problem before Christmas, but Bale has recovered in plenty of time and his availability gives Wales a huge advantage – on paper at least – heading into the game.
Keane was full of praise for Bale and admitted it might be impossible for the Irish to stop the 27-year-old causing them harm.
"What you find is that players and coaches have tried to come up with a plan [to stop him] before,” said Keane. “But top players figure it out and affect the game anyway, Bale has done that for a number of years on the big occasions.
“I can’t say we have any particular plan. We will respect all the Welsh players because they have that foundation for him to go and express himself, that’s why he has a big impact on all their results, be it with goals or assists, the stats will tell you that.
“But your eyes don’t lie when you see good players, he’s a brilliant player. He’s been doing it right there at the highest level in the last few years.
“I’ve always liked him. Even when I was manager of Sunderland he came up with Southampton and was the best player on the park. He equalised in injury-time and was excellent from left-back.
“He’s a talented boy who has fulfilled his potential and probably more. I like watching him play. He’s a big player for Wales and Real Madrid.
“Our lads should look forward to the challenge - you should want to play against and play with the best. We have that chance on Friday because Bale is up there with the best players in the world.”