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Roy Keane demands Republic stars toughen up

Roy Keane has warned the Republic of Ireland's players they will have to man up if they want to prosper at Euro 2016.

A much-changed side succumbed in tame fashion to a 2-1 defeat by Belarus in Cork on Tuesday evening in their final warm-up game before heading for France, leaving the assistant manager less than impressed.

Keane is confident Ireland will be much better when they line up against Sweden at the Stade de France in their opening fixture on June 13 with a significantly stronger team, but he has warned the players they will have to put their bodies on the line to achieve success.

He said: "Everyone is entitled to an off night, and that's what it was. But again, we'll have - I'm, pretty sure - a different starting XI against Sweden and if we have injuries, we have lads to come in, so that's the challenge we face.

"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 - you know what I mean? - 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 on Wednesday afternoon, but his assessment of the game the night before was withering as a series of fringe players fluffed their lines in the dress rehearsal.

He said: "Well, 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 of the players. Whatever was said about it being down in Cork City and the pitch and it was sunny - forget that. You are playing international football.

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

Manager Martin O'Neill named his 23-man squad immediately after the game, and included skipper Robbie Keane and James McCarthy, despite both being injured.

McCarthy, who has a hamstring problem, warmed up with the rest of the squad on Wednesday morning, but then went off to resume work with the physios, but Keane is not expected to train until the middle of next week at the earliest because of a calf injury.

Keane said: "I'd say probably the middle or end of next week. 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. When Robbie is carrying knocks, he has a positive attitude, which helps with any injury, so I wouldn't be concerned about Robbie.

"It's not ideal he's missing training, but do we think will he be available for Sweden? The answer is yes.

"Robbie is experienced enough to know when to push himself and I would expect that to be later next week, and you still have a few days to play with."


From Belfast Telegraph