Sport Soccer

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Keane confident O'Neill has flexibility to get best from 'talented boys'

Roy Keane, right, believes he and Martin O'Neill can get the most out of Ireland's most talented players
Roy Keane, right, believes he and Martin O'Neill can get the most out of Ireland's most talented players
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MARTIN O'NEILL's experience with different formations will allow Ireland to be more flexible about how they play, according to his assistant Roy Keane.

The Corkman thinks that Ireland have creative players in their ranks that can facilitate a change of approach from the direct style that was prevalent in his days wearing the green shirt, although he stressed that there won't be a radical departure to a completely new system.

Keane name-checked Andy Reid, Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Stokes and, significantly, Stephen Ireland as options that could support a more attractive style.

Keane has suggested that Ireland is close to a recall after detailing the remarkable tale of how he bumped into one of the Stoke man's famous grandmothers on his flight to Cork this week.

"Sometimes managers – or the Irish team – can get labelled with a certain way of playing," said Keane,

"We have got good players. Even going back to when I played, Ireland got criticised for maybe being too direct and we didn't keep the ball well enough. Even when I played under Jack (Charlton) or Mick (McCarthy), we were pretty direct.

"The game is changing, but it depends on the players you have available. We've got a lot of good ball players – we mentioned Stephen Ireland, Stokesy, Reidy, Wes Hoolahan, all very talented boys.

"So, it depends on what games come around, what players are available, who's in good form, who's in their club teams.

"Again, don't underestimate Martin's experience. He's got great experience and I certainly know from watching his teams over the years, his teams have had different styles of playing.

"They can be very aggressive, they can be a good counter-attacking team – which he certainly had at Aston Villa. They were pretty physical and strong up at Celtic. He built a very good team at Leicester.

"So, as I said, it's not a quick fix. Don't be thinking that all of a sudden we're going to be playing a system that you've not heard of."

Meanwhile, Keane added that management are not worried about the fact that no player has yet emerged as an extra option through the granny rule.

Hull's Curtis Davies, who had a mixed relationship with O'Neill during their time together at Aston Villa, has again been mooted as an FAI target. "We're not putting ourselves under pressure to try and discover players or find out something that the previous management didn't," warned Keane.

"It'll be a slow process and what we have to look at is that a lot of our players are doing well week in, week out in the Premier League.

"We have to try and get a bigger squad. We're not shutting doors on any players, but it might just take a bit of time. We've got potentially four games at the end of the season and we might get an opportunity to look at some other players.

"But I know Martin is like myself, we still want to win the football matches. I don't think we want to be throwing caps around."

Irish Independent

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