Saturday 10 December 2016

'That's cuckoo land. O'Shea doesn't have to play if he's not right' - Roy Keane wants new Irish heroes to emerge

John Brennan

Published 02/09/2016 | 12:56

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane chats with goalkeeper Gary Rogers
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane chats with goalkeeper Gary Rogers

Seamus Coleman is the really big doubt for Ireland as they prepare for the first match on the road to the 2018 World Cup.

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The Everton man joined in the Irish team's training session at Abbotstown this morning and assistant manager Roy Keane admitted that Coleman's fitness is the major issue.

"James McCarthy gone back to his club for an operation, so he's out. Seamus Coleman and John O'Shea joined in training this morning and worked well, so we'll see how they get on, especially after the flight. It's not ideal that Seamus has had only a couple of pre-season friendlies. But if he gets through the next few days of work, he has a chance of playing.

"I think John is going to be ok, we'll see about Seamus. They'll play if they are ready."

Keane is ready for the challenge against Serbia in Belgrade on Monday. "We've got to forget about the summer, it's history now, and kick on from there. Everyone has moved on, honestly the Euros seems like 100 years ago now. We'll miss lads like Robbie and Shay Given," added Keane, "but it's time for some other leads to step up and become leaders as they were and embrace the leadership role."

Asked if John O'Shea had to play in the absence of natural leaders like the departed Keane and Given, the other 'Keano' was trenchant in his views.

"That's cuckoo land. John doesn't have to play, if he's not right he won't play. If John is not fit, we have plenty of other centre-halves who can play."

"We're ready for a new campaign," noted the assistant boss, "it's going to be hard, this is a tricky group where teams will take points off each other all the time."

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