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Keane hails McCarthy impact in play-off push

Roy Keane addresses the media in Abbotstown yesterday
Roy Keane addresses the media in Abbotstown yesterday
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane believes that Ireland's win over Germany has demonstrated they can "beat the best" and says that James McCarthy's emergence as a big player was central to the achievement.

Ireland's assistant manager feels that McCarthy, who has come in for some criticism during this campaign, showed what he is capable of against the world champions and wants him to bring that level of performance into the Euro 2016 play-off with Bosnia.

Keane has previously offered the opinion that it would take a while for the Everton midfielder to fully feel comfortable in the Irish midfield, citing his own experience. But the Corkman believes the penny dropped last month as the 24-year-old rose to the task in an overall display which he thinks should be offer a major source of encouragement.

"There have been one or two games lately when he has really stepped up to the plate," said Keane. "And he will have to do that on Friday.

"James is playing regularly and is playing better. I'm going back to his Wigan days and we always expected a bit more from him. We're all greedy and selfish as you could say that about a number of players.

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"It's the natural process, the more games you play, getting to know the players a lot better and building up partnerships. The more comfortable you are, the more used to get to your surroundings. James is doing a great job for the team in a slightly different role from club level."

“You want to set high standards,” said Keane, speaking generally about the significance of the German game. “Did we have a bit of luck? Yeah, but the lads rolled their sleeves up. What the Germany game has proven is we can beat the best.”

The Irish camp will learn more today about the well-being of Shane Long, but Bosnia coach Mehmed Bazdarevic is not fussed by the outcome.

“I don’t care about the Shane Long rumours,” he said, “We’ll be ready for them, with Long or without him. We will wait for two days to see what team they bring to Zenica but the more important thing for us is that we have to be ready.

“We have studied Ireland, right down to the tiniest details. They are a quality team and have arguments to believe they can win, but we have too.”

Irish Independent

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