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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Keane worry over Ireland goal supply

Irish No 2 doesn't see how national team will find the back of the net in short term against Austria and over the longer haul

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane with the Irish squad during training at Fota Island
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane with the Irish squad during training at Fota Island
Irish striker Daryl Murphy

Like the rest of us, Roy Keane is worried about goals. More precisely, where Ireland are going to find them against Austria and over the longer haul.

It's been a problem which has evolved quickly since Robbie Keane retired, even if his leaving was protracted and his scoring impact seriously diluted in his final few years.

But while he hung on, and Ireland needed him to, those behind him have been putting on miles and both Jon Walters and Shane Long are now thinking hard thoughts about the future and how many seasons at the top they might have left.

Keane knows that there is no obvious rising star and in every generation, up to now, there has always been at least one. He is concerned that the goal supply is drying up. He said: "Of course, you're disappointed but whatever about us scoring three or four goals a game, because going back over the last 20 or 30 years Ireland have never done that, you're just looking for a little bit more creativity and to create a few more chances because otherwise you're going to make it very hard for yourself.

"If you keep averaging a goal a game, whatever it might be, it's tough going against good teams."

Keane, like Martin O'Neill, has time for Daryl Murphy and points to the impact he has had when he has played.

Analyse

He said: "You look at our results when Murf has played, I tell you, they have been pretty decent if you analyse it. If he gets involved, when you look at the Austria game, if he plays up front he won't let us down."

"Nine times out of ten, you ask me about strikers the first stat you look at is their goals. But I look at his work-rate and I worked with him before at club level and I think he has done well for Ireland. It reflects in the results when he has played."

Murphy's return to the Premier League with Newcastle was one bright spot in a very ordinary season for Ireland's international players but Keane is not overly perturbed that, increasingly, he is visiting Championship grounds to watch them play.

"It's probably not the top of my concerns. In an ideal world, you want lads playing at the highest level every week but we're not in control of that, whether it's James McClean not getting enough games, one or two others in the Premier League," he said.

"James McCarthy didn't get games at Everton, he's had his injury problems. I could talk all day to you about the few concerns you might have but we're not in control of that.

"I hope we don't spend the next two weeks talking about lads who are not here, which we seem to normally do when there's any sort of media commitments. Lets look at the lads who are here, who are enthusiastic and want to play," barked Keane.

Never unhappy when he is beside the Lee, Keane has enjoyed the mini-break at Fota Island and believes it will set everyone up nicely for the next few weeks. He said: "The Austria match, that's two and bit weeks away. But what we're doing is enjoying the few days here training. The intensity has been good. We had a nice balance. We certainly didn't want to flog the players but we didn't want to just turn up for a bit of jolly-up.

"I think the training has been good, intense and because there's been new faces they've brought a bit of energy to the group. It's been ideal, I think, for the lads who've not played for two or three weeks, some lads even longer.

"It's been perfect: great conditions, lovely set-up and we'll see how it goes next week. On paper, Mexico and Uruguay, I don't think we could have picked tougher friendlies in terms of the quality of the teams we'll be playing against, how much possession we're going to get.

"It will be a tough couple of games. But we've time to prepare for the Austria game, so no excuses."

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