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Keogh: We will raise game for Germany

IT WAS AN easy scouting mission for Germany coach Joachim Low last night - put the feet up, stick on the telly and watch Bayern Munich, with six German internationals in the starting XI, play (and lose) in Belarus in the Champions League.

Scant interest in that competition for Giovanni Trapattoni with only one Irishman, Aiden McGeady, having any involvement. Our affairs are more humdrum, an English Championship battle between Wolves and Crystal Palace last night, with five Irishmen involved, was more relevant to us.

Champagne

Andy Keogh, who is very much in line for a starting role against Germany on Friday week after an effective display in the 4-1 win over Oman last month, was not sipping football's equivalent of champagne last night but was instead lining out with his Millwall team-mates against Bristol City. He appeared as a second-half sub in a 1-1 draw for a Lions side hoping to get out of the bottom three in the Championship table.

Yet Keogh, one of eight players from Ireland's 23-man squad for the World Cup games against Germany and the Faroe Islands who is not with a top-flight club, believes that the players from Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Birmingham can deliver against Germany in Dublin.

"We are up against a big task in playing Germany but we thrive on that," Keogh told the Evening Herald.

"The manager has us well-organised and effective, for the size of our country we do produce some good players.

"We're not at the level of Germany in terms of the amount of players they have to pick from. You can see how many players they have in the Champions League and we don't have that, but we are a group of players who are willing to work hard.

"The Irish spirit has always managed to get us through and we'll have to call on that for the Germany match," says Keogh.

Avoiding defeat is the foundation stone for Trapattoni in any game and Keogh accepts that will be the case once again when Germany come to town. "I think we have to be realistic about the games ahead of us. Germany are one of the best teams in the world. They have so many quality players, but we're not a bad side as well," he says.

"We have shown in some games against the big teams, like when we drew with the likes of Russia and Italy, that we can deliver a result when needed. We are a good defensive unit and we are very hard to beat. It's going to be a tough game for us, we all know that, and we'd love to win but to get a clean sheet is the main thing."

Keogh may well have played his way into the Irish side after that display against Oman, though the Dubliner has revealed the personal heartache behind that match last month.

"I did ok in the Oman game. I had been through a tough few days before that, my fiancée had just lost a baby, so I just wanted to get out and play and she wanted me to play as well," Keogh says.

"It was a hard few days but I was keen to play. I haven't had too many chances to play with Ireland recently and I didn't want to let the chance go.

"It was hard to get back to normal after something like that happens to you, it's devastating but it was important for me to play on," says Keogh, who has admitted his disappointment in failing to make Ireland's squad for Euro 2012.

"I have sorted my club form out as that was something I needed to do. I am feeling fit and strong and I hope I can do well for Ireland now.

"When I knew I was starting against Oman I didn't want to let that chance go so I was desperate to play. In my mind I did only ok in the game, I kept my shape well and contributed a bit in the game but I should have scored with one of my chances.

"It was just nice to be back involved again, getting on the pitch with Ireland is the main thing for me. With our manager and his track record in the game, he does what's right in terms of picking the team.

Shape

"He has different ideas about where he wants people to play and he'll decide what shape we have against the Germans.

"He might want someone like me to start out wide but be able to tuck in, help out with the defending, do a lot of hard work, and also have an eye for goal."

Keogh has scored twice in nine games for the Lions this season but is happy with his form, though Millwall remain in the bottom three.

He says: "The season's gone ok for me, I have scored a few goals but I should have got a few more. I have more assists than I'd normally get but I'd like to be putting the ball in the net myself more often. My priority for the next few days is Millwall and trying to get further up the table but once I get to Dublin it will be all about the Germany game."


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