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Republic of Ireland v Germany: Roy Keane in jovial mood ahead of huge test

By Daniel McDonnell

The Keane forecast is good. David Meyler was still conducting press duties when the Republic of Ireland assistant boss was summoned for his commitments in front of the cameras.

With a smile on his face, he delivered a media update that merged run-of-the-mill injury developments with the usual array of one-liners.

Robbie Keane was absent from training due to a late arrival from Los Angeles that was complicated by his wife Claudine giving birth to their second child.

"Is he available?" the elder Keane was asked.

"Why?" came the response.

"Because his wife had a baby."

"Yeah, but he didn't. Unless he's breastfeeding, he should be fine."

That just about summed up the mood of the occasion. Keane deadpanned the queries he deemed irrelevant, and didn't really go into great depth with any answer. With two big matches against Germany and Poland to come, there was no time for fluff.

One win will secure at least a play-off spot - at the expense of Scotland.

The only diversion that briefly piqued his interest was discussion of the latest goings on at his former club Sunderland.

"There's stuff going on in the background that needs to be sorted out," he said, before adding a distinctly unsubtle reference to owner Ellis Short. "That will continue as long as there are certain people in the background. That's not going to change. They should have just left me alone... I'd still be there."

Instead he is here, assisting Martin O'Neill in preparing a patched-up selection for a date with the world champions. His over-riding message was straightforward enough. If his players go into the match with a fearful attitude, they will fail.

"There has to be a bit of tension, a bit of nervousness," he cautioned. "And that's good, it keeps you on edge and it's good for your concentration levels.

"But as a player, you want to play against the best. You test yourself against the best. They should enjoy it, that's what the game is about.

"People talk about bravery in the game. Bravery doesn't necessarily mean in the tackle. It's about being brave in terms of possession, going forward, not be afraid to make a mistake, take risks, forward passing."

It is mentioned that the youthful enthusiasm of Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick could be vital.

"Possibly so because of the mindset of those players," Keane replied. "Maybe there's other parts of the game they mightn't be brilliant at. You have to bring something to the party and I suppose that is their mindset, being brave and getting forward.

"We will get opportunities. And that's where the bravery comes in: don't be afraid to make a mistake. Particularly if you're 20 to 30 yards out from goal."

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