Saturday 21 April 2018

WATCH: Roy Keane calls for Irish players to 'take out' opponents for the team if needs be

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane today
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane today

Aidan Fitzmaurice, Versailles

Ireland's players need to adopt a streetwise attitude and be prepared to risk a booking - or a sending-off - if it's necessary for the good of the team, assistant manager Roy Keane has told the Irish squad.

Belgium's players breezed past the Irish opponents without a tackle being made a number of times during Saturday's defeat to Belgium and Keane is eager to see more aggression from his players who may need to "take out" an opponent even if it yields a booking.

"My advice would be, yeah, take him out," said Keane.

"You saw Italy doing that against Belgium, a player got a yellow card on the half-way line, he jumped all over someone as Belgium were breaking and kicked the ball out of play.

"You to back to the Italians, you need to be streetwise in this game, we're not here to make friends, the fans are doing that," Keane added.

"From the players' point of view, if you smell danger, if you can hold the player up and win the ball then fantastic.

"But if you think 'we're in trouble here' then yeah, you do whatever you can to try and get the right result. If that's fouling, then you foul. It's not a crime, you'll get a yellow card, maybe a red card, but your team might win, we all make sacrifices. What do you think I would do?".

Keane is adamant that Ireland's players have the strength needed to cope with the setback of Saturday's defeat to Belgium and turn things around against Italy on Wednesday.

"This group of players has had disappointments over the last year or two, don't think for one minute that it's new to us, we have had setbacks as a group," Keane said after the squad's training session in Versailles this morning.

"I have to take my hat off to this group of players as they have bounced back, it was only a year ago that people were not expecting us to qualify but that's the name of the game, the other day when they had a few plaudits after a good performance against Sweden we said the same thing, you have to move on quickly in this game, whether it's the highs or lows.

"It's easier said that done and we've had a huge disappointment against Belgium, but I can't wait for the game on Wednesday, it's part of life that you get ready for the next challenge," added Keane, who has so far been impressed with Wednesday's opponents.

"The Italians were, to me, always favourites to top the group, this idea that it was a surprise they won their first game against Belgium, no," Keane added.

"With the players they have, huge experience, players with a lot of trophies under their belt, this suits them down to the ground. They have good options and no doubt they will rotate a few players, I think their manager has said that so it's a huge challenge for our players, but one they should look forward to."

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