Belfast Telegraph

Roy Keane: Republic of Ireland strikers still lack a cutting edge

By Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane has called on the Republic of Ireland's fleeting goalscorers to step up to the mark on Sunday and reduce the reliance on Robbie Keane.

The Republic captain was left out of the side for November's defeat to Scotland and has been tipped for a return against Poland in the crunch Euro 2016 qualifier in Dublin.

Martin O'Neill still has to make a decision in that department, however, and his high-profile assistant said yesterday that a regular contribution from other players is long overdue.

Shane Long and Jonathan Walters were favoured for the Glasgow encounter and have reported for duty after decent spells for their employers.

Aside from the stroll past minnows Gibraltar, the Republic's goals in this campaign have come from Aiden McGeady and John O'Shea - and Keane thinks that support is required from the other attackers in the squad.

"We keep saying that we rely on Robbie to score goals but it's time for other players to step up," said Keane, who dismissed questions about his short spell as assistant at Aston Villa when he spoke after training at the Aviva Stadium.

"There's been a lot of pressure on Robbie over the years and he's obviously kept producing," he continued. "It's up to other players to help him out."

Keane would like to see Seamus Coleman utilised as a real threat in the opposition half against the Poles. The right-back has found it difficult to replicate his Everton displays in the Irish jersey.

"If Seamus starts then, hopefully, for a full-back he can be a goal threat, he can get us up the pitch," said the Corkman.

The 43-year-old stopped short of declaring the key game as a 'must-win' affair but acknowledged that the side have to improve their disappointing home record at the renovated Lansdowne Road.

"I'm guessing a lot of teams have come here and enjoyed the Aviva but it's up to us to be on the front foot and get the fans behind us," he continued. "The atmosphere will be brilliant but it can't just come from the fans, it has to come from the players too."

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