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Keane hoping for Parkhead success

Robbie Keane will return to Celtic Park hoping the familiar surroundings will help him fire the Republic of Ireland to a priceless Euro 2016 victory over Scotland.

The 34-year-old Ireland skipper scored 16 times in 19 appearances for Celtic during a loan spell from Tottenham in 2010, and is hoping his touch in Glasgow has not deserted him on his return on Friday evening.

Asked if it was a help returning to a stadium he knows so well, Keane said: "In the past, it has helped me, so I am hoping if I get the opportunity tomorrow that that will be the case as well.

"You certainly don't go into games thinking that, but in the past, I have been very, very lucky that I have scored a few on certain grounds I have been at before, so I am certainly hoping that would be the case tomorrow if I get the opportunity."

Keane is not alone in the Irish squad in knowing Celtic Park well - manager Martin O'Neill was in charge there for five hugely-successful seasons, while winger Aiden McGeady cut his teeth in football with the Bhoys.

However, the striker is not convinced that is necessarily an advantage.

Keane said: "I don't know, it's clearly the same for both teams. There are a lot of players who have played here on numerous occasions, and obviously the Scottish players have, so I am not too sure, to be totally honest with you. I think it's fairly equal for both teams.

"One thing I can say, I know there are players who haven't played here before and it's about keeping players' feet firmly on ground and not get too excited.

"We know exactly what we have to do and the job we have to do, and certainly everybody is looking forward to it.

"These are the games that players want to be involved in. We haven't had a competitive game like this against a rival for a while, so it's certainly exciting."

The much-travelled Keane admits his brief spell in Glasgow was a high point of his career and he retains fond memories of it.

He said: "Coming from London and getting off that plane and coming to Celtic Park and there were 5,000 people here, was one of the best feelings you could ever get as a player, and just walking out at Celtic Park and putting on that green and white jersey...

"From start to finish for me, the experience was great and I enjoyed every minute of it."

He enjoyed too getting to know combative midfielder Scott Brown, who will line up in the Scotland engine room needing no further introduction.

Keane said: "When I was here, he was brilliant. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He gives everything he has for Celtic and his country, and that's clear to see when you see him playing.

"I'm sure that will be no different tomorrow, he will be the same Scott I know, going around kicking people. He doesn't get the credit he deserves. He's a good football player - he plays, but he doesn't mind a tackle, so it will be interesting to play against him tomorrow.

"But off the field, he's a great lad, a good lad to have around the dressing room and like I said, when I was here, he was brilliant."


From Belfast Telegraph