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John O'Shea: Keane is no distraction

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John O'Shea

John O'Shea

SPORTSFILE

John O'Shea and Robbie Keane, right, Republic of Ireland, in action against Chris Martin, Scotland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

John O'Shea and Robbie Keane, right, Republic of Ireland, in action against Chris Martin, Scotland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Roy Keane

Roy Keane

SPORTSFILE

John O'Shea

FOR ELEVEN of his 17 seasons as a professional footballer in England, John O'Shea has spent time on the same side as Roy Keane, for club and now for country.

The Sunderland defender, likely to win cap No. 102 against the USA tonight, therefore has an insight into the mind of his fellow Munster native that others in the current Ireland set-up cannot imagine.

O'Shea has been on the scene with Keane for moments glorious and grim, successes and scandals. He's been defended by Keane - Roy felt that Mick McCarthy made a mistake by not taking O'Shea to the World Cup finals in 2002 - and criticised as well, so a Roy Keane sideshow is nothing new to the 33-year-old.

Everton may disagree - the tasty comments from their chairman yesterday in response to Keane's accusation about Everton's lack of enthusiasm for their employees playing international football will be spiced up by the time Roberto Martinez gets to speak - but O'Shea insists that the latest controversy over Keane has not caused problems in the camp. "Look it doesn't bother us one bit, honestly. Obviously it's more so yourselves that really enjoy those facts," O'Shea told the media when asked about Keane's ability to dominate the agenda in the last week.

"We just have our jobs to do on the pitch. Ultimately we train great, everything is prepared for us great. And it's up to us to do the job on the pitch.

"As the manager says, it's brilliant having him on board. Along with the rest of Martin's coaching team, obviously Roy's experience playing at such a high level, his passion for the job - all those factors combined are very helpful."

Manager O'Neill will give a bunch of the players who played in Glasgow last Friday a night off tonight, but O'Shea is likely to start and his feat of winning his 100th cap in Germany last month will be commemorated by the FAI before the game.

If Germany was a great memory for O'Shea thanks to his late, late goal, Glasgow was forgettable, but the defender feels that the night cannot simply be put to one side and the side need to learn how to defend from set-pieces.

"It's certainly something we need to improve on, we have to improve attacking-wise as well, set pieces as well as they are so crucial. You see it not only at international level but week in week out in the Premier League, they are deciding the big games and we have to make sure we have improved on it, we need to improve again on it," said O'Shea.

FRUSTRATION

"It's frustrating more than anything. There was a big frustration the other night, you don't see inside the dressing room. Hopefully we will have 2015 to put that right," he added.

"I felt it looked like it was heading for 0-0 and the most disappointing thing is that the manager and the staff had explained to us how important the set-pieces were going to be, and how important they will be in games coming up as well in the qualifiers, how important they are in games that are so tight. And that was the disappointing thing on the night, to concede the goal we did.

"Scotland said they worked on it but they had a bit of luck in the transition of the set piece and we didn't react quick enough to stop it."

With many of their players missing due to club duties back in the MLS, USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann could try out some of his own fringe players tonight, including O'Shea's club-mate Jozy Altidore, very much a fringe man with his club as he's failed to start a Premier League game for the Black Cats this season. 'Sunderland fringe player' is also a tag attached to a lad called Will Buckley, signed for big bucks from Brighton in the summer but who is still waiting to emerge - with a potential Ireland career also on hold, says O'Shea.

"He is concentrating on club football," O'Shea added when asked about an Ireland spot for Buckley. "He has had a few injury issues as well and he said the most important thing for him was to stay fit and hopefully get a run in the team, that's what he was focusing on."


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