Thursday 22 February 2018

Roy Keane happy to front up to Ireland players

Roy Keane, pictured, had some choice words for Aiden McGeady recently
Roy Keane, pictured, had some choice words for Aiden McGeady recently

Roy Keane insists he has no problem facing up to players he has criticised if he feels he has gone too far.

The Republic of Ireland assistant manager was in typically forthright mood as he addressed the inadequacies he saw in last week's 2-1 friendly defeat by Belarus in Cork, with winger Aiden McGeady one of those caught in the crossfire.

Manager Martin O'Neill admitted on Monday that his number two's comments may have been "on the strong side", and Keane is adamant he will hold his hands up if he has crossed the line.

He said: "I'm not going into what I say and don't say to the players privately. I've spoken to a few of the players, not just Aiden, and I've done that throughout my career.

"I've no problem in speaking to players, staff members, if I feel I've gone overboard. That isn't an issue for me.

"I'm not going into any sort of conversations I would have had with individuals or a group of players. That's private, we move on, we get ready for next week."

Next week, of course, is when the Republic launch their Euro 2016 finals campaign against Sweden at the Stade de France on Monday evening.

They are due to fly out to their training headquarters at Versailles close to Paris on Wednesday after more than two weeks in camp gradually building up to the big kick-off.

With Belgium and Italy also awaiting the Group E rivals, the opening fixture has taken on even greater proportions, with those members of the current squad who also travelled to Poland four years ago needing no reminder of how costly a 3-1 defeat to Croatia in their first game proved to be.

O'Neill and Keane watched the Swedes dismantle Wales in their final friendly over the weekend and know victory will be no easier to come by this time around.

The former Ireland captain said: "There were no real surprises, they are a very, very good team, very experienced and they played really well on the day.

"Wales will be disappointed with their performance, but they played a lot of fringe players and [Gareth] Bale didn't start.

"It was physically a tough game and they have one or two individuals who can win a lot of games. Having said that, it's the same for us, we've got good experience in our group.

"But it's always good to watch the opposition live, you can't beat it, never mind DVDs and match reports. I travelled over with the manager and we were impressed with them.

"If you win any international game 3-0, you've done well."

The Republic will head for France still with injury concerns despite better news on midfielder James McCarthy and skipper Robbie Keane, with utility man Robbie Brady working his way through a back problem and striker Jonathan Walters battling a calf strain.

Asked about Walters' situation, Keane said: "He's feeling better in himself. It's not ideal, of course. The medical staff are looking after him, but I think there has been improvement.

"Jon is a lot more positive about it and looking towards the end of week. Jon is a fit lad anyway, hopefully that won't be a problem for next week. But the closer we get to the game, Jon would be the biggest worry."

O'Neill and Keane will continue to try to strike a balance between work and rest as the tournament fast approaches, but the latter is confident the players will be ready for Monday.

He said: "If you told me the game was tomorrow, no problem."

Press Association

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