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Euro 2016 countdown: Republic of Ireland are no pushovers insists Roy Keane

By Damian Spellman

Roy Keane has warned the rest of Europe that the Republic of Ireland will give them a game if they are thrust into battle at the Euro 2016 finals.

Keane was reluctant to cast his mind forward to next summer on Tuesday as he, manager Martin O'Neill and their players reflected on the previous night's play-off success against Bosnia-Herzegovina which means they will join England, Northern Ireland and Wales in rubbing shoulders with the continent's big boys in France.

However, having seen Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic return from Poland in 2012 without a single point from their three group games, O'Neill's assistant is convinced they will make their presence felt this time around.

Keane said: "That's the nature of the game and the challenge we face because the pool of players we have is not the biggest. But we'll have a look at that.

"I'm not sure how many people would have expected us to get out of this group, so if we get a tough one - which we will - in the summer, we'll have to hopefully try to surprise one or two people.

"We won't be short on hunger and desire and determination, and with the players and the manager we have, hopefully we'll give every team we play a good game."

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The Republic will be among the bottom seeds for next month's draw, and in the worst-case scenario, could end up in the same group as world champions Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.

However, Keane joked that a reunion with the Germans should hold no fears for a side which took four from a possible six points against them during their Group D campaign.

He said: "Well, Germany obviously won't be a problem, we tend to take care of them. It's just Spain and all the rest of them."

The tournament is likely to provide a swansong for stalwarts Shay Given (39), 34-year-old John O'Shea and skipper Robbie Keane (35). But while O'Neill has insisted there is no room for sentiment in his thinking, Keane has warned people not to write off the older generation as a new one emerges.

He said: "These boys have all contributed and they have played in a lot of the bigger games earlier in the group, and they won't be giving up their places easily, let me tell you.

"Even when they are not in the starting XI, it's what they bring to the dressing room and the training pitch. Robbie Keane has been absolutely brilliant, Sheasy pushing to get back involved last night, Shay.

"You look at Shay's international career - he has come back at the start of the campaign. These players deserve great credit.

"Listen, I don't want to be writing them off because I know for a fact they'll be believing they can get in that starting XI in France.

"They have all contributed, and some of the younger players. They are very lucky, the younger players coming through with Ireland, because the senior players are a great example."

Keane also signalled his intention to remain part of the coaching set-up for the finals, although he admitted his future beyond that is not yet certain as he continues to harbour ambitions of a return to club management.

He said: "I'm going to meet Martin over the next few weeks. I'm not sure what the contract situation is, that was the last thing on our minds.

"Martin knows I have obviously still got that ambition to get back into it. I'm not really one for networking or applying for jobs, but I am enjoying my job here. I certainly want to stay on for the Euros, and we'll play it by ear."

Belfast Telegraph