Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Robbie Keane: I can't wait to play big part in the Martin O'Neill era

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane excited about Martin O'Neill being manager
Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane excited about Martin O'Neill being manager

Robbie Keane will head off on his end-of-season break excited at what lies ahead for the Republic of Ireland.

The LA Galaxy striker's domestic campaign drew to a close before he met up with the national squad for their friendlies against Latvia and Poland with new management duo Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane launching a new era in Irish football.

While most of his team-mates roll up their sleeves for a return to action in English club football, frontman Keane will enjoy a well-earned rest. However, he is already anticipating the start of the qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 in September next year and the prospect of the Republic once again mounting a challenge.

The 33-year-old said: "Listen, we have a manager who is very enthusiastic about what he does. He has always produced where he has been, so everyone is excited.

"It's certainly been good. It was good to play at home and get the fans back on our side, if you like.

"The two of them, Martin and Roy, coming in certainly did that and then to play away from home against a team that is getting stronger, it was a good test.

"It was good for him (O'Neill) to see all the players and different players who they probably haven't seen close up, so I think it's something he certainly enjoyed."

The younger Keane was a bystander at the INEA Stadium in Poznan on Tuesday evening as a much-changed Republic side battled to a 0-0 draw with the Poles to add to their 3-0 victory over the Latvians at the Aviva Stadium.

He did not play because of a long-standing Achilles problem, the extent of which he hopes to discover on Tuesday next week when he sees a specialist.

Keane, much to his manager's admiration, delayed the consultation in order to make the trip to Poland.

Asked what his plans are for the next few weeks, he said: "Just rest, and see the specialist and see what he has to say, whether I have to have an operation or not."

The striker, who scored his 62nd senior international goal and won his 131st cap against Latvia, watched the entire game in Poznan from the bench and admitted it had given him a different perspective, one which may come in handy once his playing days are over as he looks towards a career in coaching.

He said: "It's different. It's always nice to see it from a different perspective and see how the game goes. But like anybody, you want to be playing and I'm exactly the same. But it was good to see the lads playing and good to get a few tips for a good few years down the line."

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