Tuesday 26 September 2017

Keogh 'immensely proud' to lead Rams at Wembley

Derby County defender Richard Keogh
Derby County defender Richard Keogh

Daniel McDonell

Ireland international Richard Keogh is looking forward to the moment of a lifetime when he leads out Derby County for today's Championship promotion play-off final against QPR at Wembley.

The 27-year-old defender is one of five Irishmen who could be involved in a game estimated to be worth £120m to the winning club, due to the surge in Premier League television revenue.

Keogh, who has never played in the top flight, knows that he is on the verge of a career highlight and is immensely grateful for the opportunity to play a prominent part after signing from Coventry two years ago and subsequently being awarded the captain's armband by Nigel Clough.

He has retained that role since the arrival of Steve McClaren last September and is an integral part of the midlanders' side.

"I will feel immensely proud," said Keogh. "Leading the team out at Wembley will be a moment that will live with me forever but it is not just about that, it is about the team because we are very much a team.

"It will not just be leading out my team-mates but leading my friends out as well.

"The great thing about the group of players here at Derby is we are young, hungry, want to learn and want to do well.

"We are one game from playing in arguably one of the best leagues in the world. I think this group is ready.

"We have worked so hard for this opportunity, we will be ready."

Keogh will link up with the Irish squad after this match, along with his clubmates Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon.

Sammon is likely to be used as an impact sub today, whereas Hendrick will figure in the heart of the midfield after scoring in the victory over Brighton in the semi-final.

Keogh is well regarded by Martin O'Neill and started the March friendly with Serbia as the Derryman looked at his centre-half options in the absence of Richard Dunne, who is also sitting out the summer friendlies.

Dunne will be seeking to assert his superiority today, with the veteran QPR defender conscious this could be his last chance to get back to the highest level.

Kevin Doyle, who is on loan from Wolves, is vying for a place in Harry Redknapp's starting XI.

Redknapp will be in danger of losing his job should QPR lose today. Despite having the strongest squad in the division, with, by a distance, the biggest wage bill, QPR had to settle for a fourth-place finish in the table, five points behind third-placed Derby and 13 away from the automatic promotion places.

DERBY COUNTY V QPR,

LIVE, SKY SPORTS 1, 3.0

Irish Independent

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