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Keane backed for 150 caps

Alan Kelly has tipped Robbie Keane to go on to win 150 caps for Ireland.

The 32-year-old striker will set a new national record when he leads his country out for Friday night's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands, his 126th senior appearance. Keane extended his goalscoring tally to 56 in Sunday's 4-0 friendly victory over Georgia, and goalkeeping coach Kelly has no doubts that there is more to come.

Asked if the Ireland captain could go on to reach 150 caps, he said: "Why not? Look at him, he's running around like a spring chicken. I wish I had his knees."

Kelly added: "You have to have that desire and enthusiasm. Everybody said about him travelling over all the way for the England game and getting away from the Galaxy just because he wants to play in the games. That's infectious, to me anyway, and hopefully it is to the rest of the lads."

Kelly is well placed to assess Keane's contribution since he made his senior international debut as a teenager in March 1998. He was still a member of the squad at the time and admitted the Dubliner's precocious talent was obvious from the off as they went head-to-head on the training pitch.

Kelly said: "I think I was in the squad when he first came in, and subsequently I have seen him rise all the way through from where he started to the iconic status he has now.

"His awareness, his perception, the ability he has to find space - the ability to create time and space on a football pitch is what marks the great players out, and Robbie is undoubtedly up there. I remember having many duels - which I lost on regular occasions - in these games you see out there.

"You'd think you had closed every angle down and you'd think you'd stopped the goal, and 'boom', back of the net and he's wheeling away and smiling at you and saying 'Better luck next time'."

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni will hope to be able to rely on Keane's eye for a goal once again as the Faroes arrive in Dublin for a game Ireland simply must win if they are to stand any chance of emerging from Group C.

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