Belfast Telegraph

Republic is not giving up on Euro 2016 place, says Robbie Keane

By Damian Spellman

Robbie Keane is targeting six points in September after refusing to give up on the Republic of Ireland's hopes of making it to the Euro 2016 finals.

The Republic were dealt a blow on Saturday when rivals Scotland emerged from their trip to Dublin with a point which prevented Keane and his team-mates leap-frogging them.

It was a game most onlookers believed Ireland had to win if they were to retain any chance of automatic qualification, although the 34-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy frontman is in no mood to throw in the towel and has already turned his attention to the trip to Gibraltar and the home clash with Georgia when hostilities resume after the summer.

He said: "We'll keep plugging away. We're definitely not out of this and that was the message that everyone was saying to each other. "Scotland still have a couple of tough games coming up. There are no easy games in the group, but in our next two games we'll be looking to get six points."

Given that minnows Gibraltar conceded seven goals for the third time in the campaign - on this occasion at home to world champions Germany - on Saturday, the chances of them denying the Republic maximum points in Faro seem remote, while Martin O'Neill's men will be confident of repeating their victory over the Georgians in Tbilisi when they head for Dublin.

At the same time the Scots, who remains two points better off than the Irish, have to head for Georgia and then host the Germans, and that - on paper at least - looks a significantly harder double-header.

However, Poland, who cemented their place at the top of the table with a 4-0 victory over Georgia in Warsaw, are now five points clear of Ireland with Germany just a point worse off, and the pair are in pole position to claim the two automatic spots and leave the rest scrambling for a play-off berth.

Asked if he was disappointed with just a point, Keane said: "Yeah, of course. When you dominate the game and everything seems to be going to plan, then we switch off 30 seconds after the start of the second half...

"Football is for 90-plus minutes, so you always have to be switched on, knowing that they have clever players that can do something.

"The goal was a very, very lucky goal but we gave them opportunities to do that. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and they got it. "

Keane was used only as a second-half substitute at the end of a dreadful week for his family, during which his cousins Alan and Stephen Harris died after being overcome by toxic fumes as they worked in a sewer.

The striker revealed he would not have been able to start after making just three appearances for his club in recent weeks because of a groin injury, but insisted he was ready to play his part.

He said: "It's been a tough week. I don't want to talk about it too much, but for all the family it's been difficult.

"I was ready for the game."

Belfast Telegraph