Wednesday 26 October 2016

Steven Gerrard: Martin O'Neill must include Galaxy star Robbie Keane in Euros squad

Published 05/12/2015 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane
Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane

Steven Gerrard says he would be 'stunned' if Robbie Keane was not a part of Ireland's plans for Euro 2016 and repeated his disappointment that the Dubliner failed to hit it off with Rafa Benitez at Liverpool.

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Keane and Gerrard are now team-mates again at LA Galaxy with the established striking star helping the summer recruit to settle into his new surroundings. The former England captain, who was speaking to RTE on a promotional trip for his new book, can see that the 35-year-old still has a lot to offer and expects Martin O'Neill to avail of his services in France.

The Irish skipper was an unused sub for both legs of the play-off with Bosnia and his only involvement in the previous double-header with Germany and Poland was a cameo off the bench in Warsaw.

"I would be stunned if he was not in the squad," said Gerrard, "I think Martin O'Neill will take him for his experience. He is capable of scoring big goals at big moments and them players are very hard to come by.

"I know he hasn't played as much in the last couple of qualifiers and the play-off but Martin has had him alongside him on the bench and Robbie does a terrific job on the pitch but also off it as well and I am sure he will want him around.

"I know Robbie well enough to know he won't be happy being a squad player. He will want to push to try and get playing time."

Gerrard and Keane used to share the same agent and have become closer friends in their American base.

"We already had a decent connection but it certainly got stronger when I turned up in LA," he explained.

"He put his arm around me and helped me settle. He is a legend out there at Galaxy, he is scoring heavily week in, week out. I know how popular he is here in Ireland and how big he was in the Premier League and he certainly took that over to the Galaxy and the MLS."

It was a different story for Keane during his short-lived stay at Anfield in the first half of the 2008-'09 campaign. Gerrard's book details his own strange relationship with Benitez and he also mentions that Keane was unlucky because of what the Spaniard asked of him. With Fernando Torres leading the line, he wanted more from Keane outside the box which didn't necessarily play to his strengths.

"It wasn't all down to Robbie," continued Gerrard. "Robbie came and worked hard on the training pitch and scored some important goals for us but these things happen in football, players move about and sometimes don't settle.

"I think there was a bit of a clash with Rafa Benitez maybe but I certainly wanted him to stay around for a long time. He was trying to change the way Robbie played.

"The reason we bought Robbie was to play off the front man and cause damage. Rafa was trying to change that and change his game and I don't think Robbie was too happy with that."

Irish Independent

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