Keane's fears for our stars
Assistant boss Keane admits Boys in Green face 'a tough time' in Euro 2016 qualifier against the World Cup winners Germany
ROY KEANE believes that Ireland are in for a "tough time" in the Euro 2016 qualifiers against newly-crowned world champions Germany.
And while Martin O'Neill's assistant promises that the current crop of Republic players will give their all in the battle to qualify for France in two years' time, he fears that the lack of exposure to top-level games will harm the side when they come up against players of Germany's standard.
"It was no surprise to me that this German team turned up and won it, so we are in for a tough time against them. But we have to have our own mindset and, if we perform, with a bit of luck we can give them a game," said Keane in an interview with Today FM.
"The strength in depth they have, players they can pick from, they were certainly one of the best-prepared teams at the World Cup - some of that comes down to money, you hear about them building their own training ground over there in Brazil.
"Their players are playing in big games every season, whether that's the Bayern Munich lads or they have a few at Real Madrid, they are playing in Champions League semi-finals, they bring that experience to the big tournaments and you can't buy that.
"That's been a big problem for the Irish team over the last few years, a lot of our lads not playing in big games, not even in big Premier League matches as they are down the league and in the Championship. You get to these big games and it's difficult.
"And I don't think they will have their hunger sated, you see players like Lahm retiring but I think Germany will have the strength in depth and that's why they are a top team," Keane said of the Germans.
The dearth of Irish players at top clubs is a big concern for Keane. "When I started out as a player, the aim was to get to England, try to establish yourself, get to a bigger club, win trophies," he stressed.
"But the way the game has changed over the last few years and the way the careers of a lot of Irish players have panned out and the money involved in the game - and I don't just mean Irish players - you can become successful, in the sense of being wealthy, without reaching the top clubs. You can have a mediocre career and become a millionaire.
"I don't just mean Irish players with that. To me the ambition should be to get to the very top - Man United, winning trophies.
"That's where you get your rewards but players now can become very wealthy and all of a sudden say 'I don't need it, I can play for a Championship team and be a millionaire so why do I need to kill myself to get into the Premier League.
"Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know."
Keane also expanded on his decision to take up a role at Aston Villa. "I weighed all that up, I spoke to Martin O'Neill, the FAI, Paul Lambert. I didn't just jump into it, I weighed it all up and took three or four weeks," he says. "I know from my own experiences that I will not become a better coach working in a in a TV studio, and at Villa I will be working with international-quality players on a daily basis.
"I will be working with Ireland, I will be going to spot players, working with some of the young Irish players at Villa, looking at games close-up, I will improve as a coach and I don't see it as being an issue."
Whatever about his admiration of the Germans, Keane also admitted to a sneaking admiration for Arjen Robben.
"Robben is a top player and I'd like him in my team. As much as we can be critical - and I remember when Ronaldo came to United and he was heavily criticised for going down to quick - they don't see that as cheating, they see it as part of the game.
"Whether we like it or not, it's different cultures and different beliefs. We would always be told, maybe it was an Irish thing, to stay on your feet and don't show you're hurt. But these boys see it as part of the game. Is it cheating? Probably, yeah. But I'd still like him in my team."