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Saturday 25 October 2014

Keane: We won't allow Swedes to run show

Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane. Picture: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane. Picture: Sportsfile

ROBBIE KEANE has promised to dig deep and help out his Ireland team-mates in their battle with Sweden in Stockholm tonight.

Keane was confirmed in the starting XI by Giovanni Trapattoni for the Sweden tie, for his 123rd cap, but the Irish skipper already knows he will be needed for some defensive duties, with Keane moving back into midfield to provide extra cover and leaving Shane Long with the task of trying to nick a goal past Sweden's veteran keeper Andreas Isaksson.

"Away from home against a strong team, my role changes a small bit," said Keane. "Dropping in and making that extra midfield role, stopping their midfielders from playing, so it will be different from a game against someone like the Faroes. Shane will play up front and me beneath him, so I will be a link between the midfield and the striker. It's a role I'm familiar with."

With such a strong English presence in both camps – the entire starting XI with Ireland play their club football in England while Swedish players like Seb Larsson, Jonas Olsson and Tobias Hysen either currently play in England or have had spells there – it's already been likened to a derby game. Trapattoni used the 'derby' word when predicting a tight battle and Keane agrees that it could be bruising at times.

"A physical battle is in our nature, we're not here to sit back and let the Swedes run all over us, we are here to give them a game," said Keane.

"There's not much between the two teams, we are fairly similar in the players we have and the way we play, there's not a big difference.

"They are at home and their fans will expect a result but we are here to get a result and get something out of the game. We will roll up the sleeves and work hard," added Keane.

There was a proviso when Trapattoni named his team at the pre-match press conference, with the Irish boss saying that he intended to start Robbie Brady but needed to see the Hull City man in training before making a final call – Trap keen to see how Brady would react mentally to the challenge – but Keane insists that confidence is not a problem for Brady.

"Robbie will be fine, he's a good character and a good lad to have around, confidence won't be a problem for him," said Keane.

"When you're young you have no fear, Robbie and Seamus Coleman are those kind of characters. They don't seem bothered by anything and they seem on board with what the manager wants them to do, they will help make the team better."

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