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Robbie's keen to repay Trap

RARELY has Robbie Keane delivered such an impassioned set of words. He sat beside Giovanni Trapattoni in Torshavn yesterday and offered the apologies and rationalisation for Germany which should have come from his manager.

But his backing for Trapattoni was unequivocal and his dismissal of any talk of a squad in chaos trenchant. As the loyal captain, he did his job well.

Towards the end, his eyes misted over. Perhaps he too knows instinctively that this game against the Faroe Islands is the final chapter in the Trapattoni story.

Or perhaps he is sensing his own mortality. A new manager might not have the same depth of regard for Keane as Trapattoni has always had.

Trapattoni suspended football's natural order of succession within a squad to accommodate his captain and if this is the end of his days, it could very easily be that Keane's dominant position as Ireland's first striker will be a casualty of a new regime.

But that's a story which will unfold over the next few days and possibly weeks. More immediately, Keane has had an injection in his Achilles which appears to have worked and he will start against the Faroes.

He believes that the players must make a major statement of intent by winning this game as the first step towards restoring confidence which was battered by events in the Aviva four days ago. "Like everybody in the whole country and with the lads, everyone is very disappointed with the result. I know the players are embarrassed and I think as a whole nation, we are certainly embarrassed," he said bluntly.

"We have had a good record up to now and to get a defeat like we did on Friday in front of our home fans is very, very disappointing. But the good thing about football is that there is always another game. If that game was it and we didn't have a game tomorrow night, it would certainly have been a long few months.

"Listen, the lads accept you are going to get criticised, and I mentioned after the game that there's going to be a lot of negativity around the whole country, which there has been, and rightly so. It wasn't good enough, we all know that and we accept that, but it is up to us as players now to put this right. We will be doing our best to do that and hopefully we can rectify a little bit how bad Friday's result was by getting three points."

Asked whether he felt that the players owed Trapattoni a performance after the Germany result, he was emphatic. "Of course we owe him. It's clear to see and I don't need to tell you the job he has done for the country. I think as players, we let ourselves down, we let our country down. And whether you are playing or not playing, we are all in this together.

"We are all going to be criticised together and it's important that we all pay back together.

"Today, it will be interesting to see the separation of the men from the boys. It was not good enough on Friday and it's important now that we stand up and be counted."

Asked directly whether he and the rest of the squad were fully behind Trapattoni, the response was swift and certain. "Of course we are. Listen, there are always going to be rifts in the camp," he said, a reference to Stephen Kelly's clash with Marco Tardelli. "The players who are not playing are going to be disappointed, that's normal. Every week since I have been playing football, every week there is one argument in the team, every week in clubs. It's normal, it's natural and it happens all the time.

"Unfortunately we are in a bubble here with the Irish set-up. It's a bubble and stuff gets out and that's no problem. But this happens every week in football. Last week before I left LA Galaxy it happened, two weeks before that it happened, and when I was at Tottenham it happened. It happens all the time.

"We are in this together and we have to stick together. The manager has a contract and of course the players want to see that continue.

"We have played two games and lost one against Germany. People did not expect us to win that game. Our main priority is Sweden and Austria.

"If we finish second, like we always try to do as we come up against teams who are superior than us as happened last Friday.

"People are always going to speculate and have their own views on things and that's the life we live in now with all the social media stuff.

"That's the type of world we are in now so people are always going to speculate and ask questions. They have the right to do that.

"We need a massive reaction, we have to have a massive reaction. When you lose in the manner that we did on Friday night, we have to. We are playing against a team where we are the favourites and we should win but it's easier said than done. So we need a massive reaction from everybody in the squad -- the players who are playing and the players on the bench."


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