Time to grow up fast - Robbie Keane
Skipper urges young guns to seize moment against Swedes
Published 20/03/2013 | 07:16
ROBBIE KEANE says that Ireland's young players have to grow up fast and deliver a performance in Sweden on Friday to keep hopes of World Cup qualification alive.
Giovanni Trapattoni is set to field a team that is radically different from the side which featured at Euro 2012, and Keane admits that the absence of Shay Given, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne will be keenly felt in a game where experience can be valuable.
Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady all have a strong chance of being involved at some point and Keane has stressed that they have to deliver instantly, despite their relative inexperience at this level.
"It's not going to be easy when you are missing big players," said Keane.
"Certainly, it's a lot to ask of a young squad to come in, it probably takes a bit of time, but the problem is that we don't have that. We only have seven games left in the campaign. We have to be right on it.
"We have the game on Friday and then Tuesday (v Austria) and these are the biggest games coming our way -- it's between us and the two other teams fighting for second place.
"It's always good to have a few senior players in these situations. We don't, so it's an opportunity for a few lads who have been on the verge of or have been desperate to get into the squad to stake their claim. I'm sure they will be desperate to do well as they have not played too many times for their country."
Trapattoni is contemplating opting for the experience of Paul Green at the expense of McCarthy with a view to tackling the influence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Leeds midfielder was on the recognised 'first team' at training yesterday and, while goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly said afterwards that the Italian had been looking at other options, Green is in the frame.
James McClean and Robbie Brady were the wingers in the orange-bibbed side, with Ciaran Clark partnering John O'Shea at centre-half and Shane Long just behind Robbie Keane in attack.
Long accidentally injured Jon Walters in a training game. The Stoke star initially looked to be in serious pain, but his condition improved to the extent that the FAI did not need to send him for a scan. Kevin Doyle is the first striker on standby.