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Let's give it a lash against germans - robbie

AS A young player still making his way in international football, Robbie Keane met the challenge against Germany of scoring the goal needed to keep Ireland involved in the World Cup finals.

And as he prepares to win his 137th senior cap, Keane says there's a belief in the current squad that they can stand up to Germany in Gelsenkirchen and deliver another big result against the world champions, something which has eluded the Republic in clashes since that 1-1 draw at Korea/Japan 2002.

The 54,000 capacity Veltins Arena, which has a regular diet of Champions League football, is not the kind of venue where the Championship contingent in the Ireland squad get to play with any regularity.


But veteran Keane, who had a walk around the stadium with the management team last night as the Irish declined the chance to train there having worked out in Dublin yesterday morning before the flight to Germany, feels that the occasion and the magnitude of the task will not overawe his side.

"These are the games you have to go and enjoy. You see the stadium and it's fantastic. These are games any player wants to be involved in, playing against one of the best teams in the world," Keane said.

"Go out and enjoy it, as long as you know what your jobs are and stick to that - but go out and give it a go.

"We are playing the World Cup champions but we have players in this squad who are very comfortable with what they are doing at club level, and they can bring that into the international stage, no question. We have got some great results.

"So we are confident we can come here and get something from the game, we have a lot of confidence at the moment."

Confidence was also high in the Irish camp - officially at least - when the played Germany in Dublin in the last qualifying campaign but we came away with our collective tails between our legs, Joachim Loew's side winning 6-1 in Dublin and 3-0 in Köln.

But the Ireland captain insists that is all ancient history. "I don't think the players are thinking too much of what happened in the past, we are concentrating on what we are doing now," he stressed.

"We are certainly different team to the team we were a few years ago. It hasn't been mentioned this week and it's something that shouldn't be, it's a different game and we come into this game with a lot of confidence."

Fresh legs

Keane spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference in the Veltins Arena last night, his presence beside O'Neill a sign that he is likely to get, though is not guaranteed, a place in the starting XI.

O'Neill could take the option of going for fresh legs in the form of Shane Long and using Keane as sub, though the Tallaght man's experience - and eye for goal in big games - will probably earn him a start.

"The manager hasn't named the team yet and whatever team he names, I will respect that," says the American-based striker.

"I will go and do my job. My job is to score goals and contribute to the team in any way I can.

"As a striker you don't go into any game thinking you can't get at them.

"I go into every game thinking I will get a chance and score and you have to believe that regardless of who you are playing against."

One man who will start is John O'Shea, in line to win his 100th cap. It's a massive achievement and one that's deserved, according to Keane who reached that 100-cap mark a long time ago.

"To get 100 caps is amazing and he has been great since he came into the squad. He is a big player for us," Keane says of O'Shea.

"He has been brilliant on the field but off the field as well, he is great around the place.

"John talks and when he does he makes a lot of sense. Around the hotel and that he is good with the younger players.

"He helps younger players come through."

a fitzmaurice@herald.ie