Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Ireland needs to make decision on return and stick to it – Keane

Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ROBBIE KEANE has urged Stephen Ireland to make up his mind on his international future and expressed his belief that the presence of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will stop other players from going into exile.

The Ireland captain said it's O'Neill's choice if he wants to bring Ireland back to the fold after his six-year absence, but made it clear that he cannot understand why players have signed themselves out of international duty in the first place.

Darron Gibson returned to the fold last month following the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni, with Anthony Stokes also brought in from the cold and Keane (right), who advocated the appointment of a manager with "balls", feels that the new voices in the dressing-room will make players think twice about stepping away in a strop, tweeting their disgust, or withdrawing from squads without a good enough reason.

"They'll probably want all of their best players available, players who are playing on a regular basis, so of course they have to be open-minded about it," said Keane when asked about Stoke midfielder Ireland.

"But ultimately, if someone doesn't want to come, what can you do? If they want to come, that's fine, make a decision on whether you want to come or not and then stick to that decision instead of, 'maybe I'll come, I don't know'.

"I'm talking in general too. You've got two big strong characters and I don't think you're going to get too many people pulling out of squads."

The Tallaght man admitted that he's been frustrated by issues arising with players during his time as captain.

"I've got a problem if people don't want to play for their country," he said.

"I just can't understand that. It's not the first time I've said that. I just can't understand why you wouldn't want to pull that green jersey on, I don't get it. At the end of the day it's the manager's choice if he wants to pick him or bring him back."

"As players, if they come back into the fold, you have to get on with it and welcome them again if you like. It's very hard. You can't hold grudges against people like that.

"I think a few of the lads would probably say something in a joking way," he continued, in relation to a specific question on Gibson.

"What else are you going to do? Sit down with him and say, 'what the f*** are you doing?' It's his choice. What can you say? Whether I agree or disagree, everyone has their own views on it.

"It was his choice, there's new management now and they brought him back in. Will that happen again? I'm not too sure."

Keane also advocated a complete Twitter ban on international duty in light of James McClean's strife and comments Sean St Ledger made about the state of the pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

"I just think there has to be common sense, just use your head," he said. "I think it should be a 10-day ban to be honest, as soon as you walk in that door you shouldn't be tweeting."

Irish Independent

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