Sunday 18 March 2018

The future is bright – Keane

McCarthy, Coleman and Co have saved Irish football, claims skipper

Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane

Daniel McDonnell in New York

ROBBIE KEANE says that his fears for the future of Irish football have been allayed by a new generation of players who will feature in tonight's friendly with Spain at Yankee Stadium.

The Ireland captain admitted yesterday that he had harboured concerns about the quality coming through the ranks until the emergence of James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and newcomer Jeff Hendrick.

They are all part of Giovanni Trapattoni's midfield for the intimidating clash with the World and European champions, and Keane believes they can go on to become elite performers for their country.

"The future is going to be bright," said the Ireland skipper.

"I'll be totally honest with you, about a year or two years ago, I didn't think that. But these are lads that are going to be around for a very long time.

"Take someone like Jeff, who has burst onto the scene. He will definitely be playing for a top team in the next couple of years. I don't know what exactly it is, but he has that something about him... that little bit of class.

"The manager keeps going on about personality and he's got that, he's really grown.

"James had a magnificent season with Wigan, and Seamus Coleman too. There's no question that in the next two years, they'll all be at big clubs. Stephen Quinn, it's only his first trip, but he's been absolutely magnificent in training as well."

Quinn will be in reserve tonight, however, with Trapattoni indicating he will go with a 4-4-2 against Vicente Del Bosque's side.

Coleman will operate on the right side of midfield, with Andy Keogh on the left, with the manager confident that their defensive awareness will help to curb Spain in the areas where he feels they are strongest.

Keane will be partnered up front by Conor Sammon, while Darren O'Dea comes in at centre-half next to Sean St Ledger, with Paul McShane and Stephen Kelly deployed as full-backs.

Keane and St Ledger are the only survivors from the team that suffered a miserable 4-0 Euro 2012 drubbing at the hands of Spain a year ago this week.

With heavy rain falling in New York yesterday and further showers expected today, the pitch at the Yankee Stadium has been covered to protect the surface.

Last Friday's Major League Baseball encounter between the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins in nearby Queens was called off due to dreadful weather conditions.

Irish Independent

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