Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland players will need to show more hunger, blasts Roy Keane

By Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane believes that the Republic of Ireland's limp display against Belarus illustrated why Martin O'Neill will be looking to other players for inspiration in Euro 2016.

The No.2 was deeply unhappy with the performance in the 2-1 defeat at Turner's Cross and implied that some members of the team damaged their chances of involvement in the opener against Sweden on Monday week.

Aiden McGeady came in for particular criticism, with Keane stating that he "can do a lot better but maybe that's the story of Aiden's career".

Four years ago, Keane was critical of McGeady in his role as a Euro 2012 pundit and that drew a strong response from the player. He will be looking for a different kind of reaction now.

The assistant boss also warned Jeff Hendrick and Daryl Murphy that they quickly need to get up to speed.

"It was a good reality check," he said. "That's what football does to you. It would probably have been no good winning 4-0 and everyone thinking we're a decent team and then going over there and then coming unstuck.

"We'll have a stronger team out against Sweden, simple. We'll be better than that, don't worry."

Keane suggested that the example will be set by the first-team regulars that weren't included in the Cork reverse.

"People go on about pushing players, but there are certain lads in our group that you don't have to push.

"You don't have to push Jon Walters, Seamus Coleman, Glenn Whelan, who trained this morning with the other lads who didn't play. Whatever you're doing, do it properly. Even if training is 45 minutes or an hour, do it properly. Football is about good habits and one or two of our players just need to get into that mindset."

He added: "I'm worried when players aren't carrying knocks. You're supposed to carry knocks because you are supposed to tackle people, you're supposed to hit people at pace and hit them hard. It's part of the game.

"It's not chess we are playing. Every time you get a knock, you don't need to go for a scan or take painkillers or have two days' recovery or match-day minus-two, 'I need to sit in the pool for an hour and a half'.

"It's a man's game we are playing, believe it or not."

Keane insisted he had actually calmed down as he spoke to the media at Fota Island yesterday afternoon, but his assessment of the loss against Belarus - who where defeated 3-0 by Northern Ireland last week - was withering as a series of fringe players fluffed their lines in the dress rehearsal.

He said: "I wanted to kill a few of them last night, so I have moved on from that.

"Last night was a good occasion for some players. Whatever was said about it being down in Cork and the pitch and it was sunny - forget that. You are playing international football.

"Control the ball, pass it and move to your mates and if you lose it, run back - and run back like you care."

James McCarthy trained with the rest of his colleagues in the early part of training at the Fota Island Resort, but Robbie Keane remained absent. The elder Keane feels both will be available for the Sweden encounter.

Keane said: "There's no need to rush Robbie. I know it has not been an ideal time for him because he is just back from a previous injury. But his track record and his recovery rate is pretty good."

Belfast Telegraph