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Kilbane keen for kids to get a chance but not to hang up his own boots yet

ANOTHER September, another campaign and Kevin Kilbane is still with us. He knows he's on borrowed time but he still loves the rush and won't let go yet.

Nor will he for some time to come. Kilbane is besotted with the game and still wide-eyed enough after a 13-year international career to look forward to a new qualification campaign with the excitement of a teenager.

But his age forces him to look further to a time when the legs won't work and his body tells him to quit but not yet, not while he can still run.

"I'd like to go into coaching, but there again, I don't know. I haven't started the badges yet and I hope to start them over the next six months. The time is coming around and I have to think of everything, like family life," he said.

"But I want to play on for as long as I can and it wouldn't bother me to go down the leagues.

"There are times when you think 'what's it all about'. Especially during the bad days and, when you're outside the top four, there are generally more bad days than good. But I love coming in every day keeping fit and seeing young lads coming through."

There's nothing revelatory in any of this but it is great to hear someone with such a passion for the life they lead and such a commitment to playing at a professional level. He will play until they drag him kicking and screaming off a pitch.

For this game against Armenia, Kilbane will get to play for Ireland again and last November, he must have wondered whether that would ever happen again.

It was generally accepted that he would have to give way in the Euro 2012 campaign, either to John O'Shea or perhaps the burgeoning talent that is Greg Cunningham.

Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli told him that there would be days when he would have to sit and watch but his experience is needed in Yerevan.

"I'm proud I'm in the squad again.I did consider quitting but at end of day if you're picked, you're picked if you're not you're not," he said with a shrug.

"I spoke with Liam Brady and the manager and decided to make myself available again."

With Shay Given, Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne and Damien Duff firmly in the veteran class now, there has been much talk of retirement but Kilbane doesn't believe we will see anyone quit any time soon.

"I think the question was asked at the end of the last campaign about Robbie, Damien and even John O'Shea. But they are key for us. I think they all still want to be a part of a team going to a tournament finals and this is the chance.

"We've never had a massive pool of players but we're very much a team together. It would be all too easy when you're not involved in every game to walk out and say I've had enough.

"No. I'll sit around and see what happens. I love it, it's the pinnacle for me. I spoke to my family and they made it clearer for me and I took plenty of other advice. If anyone thought it was time for me to go, that wasn't said and it's nice to hear that people want me to stay around."

Trapattoni has asked Kilbane to keep an eye on the youngest in the squad and he is happy to play that role. "The kids want to take the shirt off your back and will do if you're not performing," he says. "We have two or three coming in with real quality.

"We haven't qualified in five or six years and so young lads have had no real no chance to shine. This is the time for lads like Kevin Doyle to shine and we need to qualify so they can have their chance on a big stage."


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