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'Warrior' De Rossi is wary of Ireland challenge


Daniele de Rossi Photo: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

Daniele de Rossi Photo: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

Daniele de Rossi Photo: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

Their place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 already assured, Italy are concerned that Ireland could have more hunger than the Italians when the sides face up in Lille tomorrow.

The Italians plan to make changes - up to nine according to some reports - as they will play in the knock-out round even if they lose, and Daniele de Rossi has expressed caution.

“It could be a problem that they have a lot of motivation and there’s less for us,” De Rossi said.

“It shouldn’t be that way though. They’re a physical team who give everything. In 2012 they had nothing to play for, but still their fans cheered for 90 minutes.

“They’ll give even more now, and we can’t be unprepared, we don’t want to give any gifts.

“I didn’t see the game against Sweden, but we’ve watched some videos. They have a very strong and quick striker (Shane Long) and they’re a very physical side. They’ll certainly cause us problems.

“We’re not thinking about opponents in the last 16, we’ll do that later. It’s important to win.”

AS Roma star De Rossi was pleased to get the imprimatur of Roy Keane at the Ireland assistant manager’s press conference.

Looking at the Azzurri squad, Keane said: “De Rossi in midfield I really like. We’ve mentioned warriors, well he’s up there”.

And De Rossi responded. “Roy Keane said that? He was a warrior, I understand why he might like us, because we were not fancied,” he smiled.

“It’s good that someone like Keane, who is all his competitive spirit and intensity, can fall in love with a team like ours, for the aesthetes it tends to be Spain. But you have to win to be remembered,” added de Rossi, who has played against Ireland five times.