‘We’re well behind our Group C rivals’ -- Roy Keane
ROY KEANE believes Ireland are "well behind" their three Group C rivals and are technically inferior.
In a warning to Irish supporters, the former Manchester United star says he is worried about the team's ability to hold onto the ball.
"The big problem for Ireland is that possession generally wins you football matches and Ireland do not retain the ball well enough to sustain decent results," Keane stated.
"Technically they will be well behind the three teams they are playing."
Despite this, the former Ireland captain still feels Giovanni Trapattoni's troops have "a chance" of making the quarter-finals.
"But what you might find with Ireland, which they have done in all major tournaments in which they have qualified, is that they get that one big result. They are not bad at set-pieces. That may be their only hope."
Keane, however, is adamant that a loss in Sunday's opener against Croatia would end their hopes of qualifying, insisting: "They have to get something."
He feels that James McClean could be their surprise package. "He's a good player and the other teams won't have seen too much of him. He's a big strong boy and he can get you goals -- he's a threat. If he can bring his club form to the team he can get in that starting XI."
Keane concluded: "They will have a good go, as all Irish teams do. Ireland always bring something different to a tournament, they have the spirit and the supporters -- that gives you a chance."
Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday that Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni responded to approaches from some of his players before deciding to give the entire squad the day off.
After Aiden McGeady complained of fatigue this week, Trapattoni sought the views of several senior players, fronted by captain Robbie Keane, as they enter the fourth week of their arduous Euro 2012 build-up.
"The players can, and do, approach the manager," confirmed goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly.
"It would be remiss of the manager not to speak to Robbie or whoever and ask them how they're feeling.
"We can't come out and say: 'Oh no, he doesn't speak to anyone.' There's a relationship and he has a very good relationship with the players. He says to them if they have a problem, please come to me."