'Keane has won over players'
O'Neill reveals Ireland's new No 2 has made big impression
MARTIN O'NEILL believes that his Ireland squad were pleasantly surprised by the temperament of Roy Keane after admitting that some players might have been "secretly concerned" by his appointment as No 2.
The Ireland boss has hailed the contribution of Keane as he reflected on his first month in the job which included a successful gathering for the double header with Latvia and Poland.
"I personally think he'll be fantastic for the nation," said O'Neill, who was speaking on a trip to Naas. "He's already made a great impression on the players themselves, who I think secretly might have been a little bit concerned but he's been really excellent.
"He wants to do it. He has enthusiasm which is always there and is there in abundance.
"If enthusiasm alone was to get us through that would be great but unfortunately we need a bit of luck along the way. We've got some decent players as well.
"It would be great to be successful with the Republic of Ireland, following in the footsteps of an absolute fantastic manager in Giovanni Trapattoni.
"It's, hopefully, going to be a bit of fun along the way. We'll, hopefully, get Roy smiling once or twice and everybody might be happy.
"I just want to say something about him, when I mentioned to him if he fancied it, he jumped at the chance. He jumped at it immediately and said: 'Let's go and do it, it will be great.'"
Keane has thrown himself into his new role and will take in two games today, watching the meeting of Nottingham Forest and Coventry's U-21 sides before taking in Forest's Championship encounter with Reading. He will then move onto Saturday's Premier League clash between Everton and Stoke which should provide plenty of Irish interest, including a possible return from injury for the exiled Stephen Ireland (above).
O'Neill, who watched Blackburn's encounter with Reading last weekend, could join Keane for that fixture but he is still mulling over his weekend plans.
The scale of the task facing the high profile duo has been emphasised by Ireland's slump to 67th position in the latest set of FIFA rankings, sandwiched between Guinea and Uzbekistan.
Portugal moved up to fifth in the rankings while Spain leads an unchanged top four from Germany, Argentina and Colombia.
Uruguay is sixth, and No. 7 Italy swaps with No. 8 Switzerland which was seventh for one month to clinch seeded status. Netherland is ninth and host Brazil rises one to No. 10.