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Thursday 20 September 2018

Keogh: I want to be in green again

Millwall striker aims to work his way back into contention for Ireland under O'Neill

Republic of Ireland's Andy Keogh (left). Picture: Andrew Winning/REUTERS
Republic of Ireland's Andy Keogh (left). Picture: Andrew Winning/REUTERS

HE IS one of The Forgotten for now, but long-time Ireland servant Andy Keogh is hoping that his past deeds in the line of national service will be remembered by the new management team in charge of the Republic of Ireland.

The 27-year-old made his senior international debut way back in 2007 and picked up 30 caps along the way.

But Keogh had fallen out of favour even before Giovanni Trapattoni left his post with the FAI and he hasn't been involved in the last number of squads, the Millwall man not selected for the recent double-header against Latvia and Poland either.

Given that he is currently out of favour at club level – he hasn't started a game for the Lions in eight weeks and for some games he even fails to make the bench – Keogh can't demand an immediate place in the Irish squad and he accepts that international progress will only come as a result of good form at club level.

But he is eager to make it clear that he hasn't gone away, you know.

"Of course I want to play again, playing for Ireland is a big part of my career and my life and I don't want to just give up on that at my age," Keogh told the Herald.

"With a new management team there now, there is an opportunity there for everyone to impress and get a place in the squad. If you are not in their plans immediately then all you can do is knuckle down, work hard with your club and catch the eye.

"I know I am not the only one who is in that position, a few of us have been regulars in the squad for a few years and are not in the frame now, but I feel I can play for Ireland again and it's something I want to do.

"I do miss it when I am not there; I have been there or thereabouts in the squad for six years now and it does feel strange when Ireland play and you are not involved.

"It happens at club level, that a new manager wants to change things around, we have a gaffer here at Millwall who changed things when he came in and that was tough going for me and a few other players as he had new plans, all you can do is keep working hard and wait your turn. If I can get back into the side at my club, I can give the new manager food for thought," added Keogh.

"Martin (O'Neill) and Roy (Keane) looks like a great combination and it's something I would love to experience."

 

Regulars

There are indeed a number of players who were squad regulars under Trapattoni for a long spell but are currently out in the cold: Stephen Hunt, Simon Cox, Keith Andrews, Liam Lawrence, Keith Treacy and, more recently, David Meyler, Darren O'Dea and Conor Sammon were all senior internationals but have not made the cut in recent times, whether that was at the tail end of the Trapattoni era, the Noel King period or the new dawn under Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.

Keogh started his international career under Steve Staunton, but he won the bulk of his caps under Trapattoni, handed a starting role in games like the qualifier away to Italy, but in recent months his face didn't fit.

The Dubliner expressed his unhappiness when he was left out of the squad for September's double-header against Sweden and Austria, Keogh later clarifying his remarks by saying he wasn't so much upset at his exclusion but the fact that he wasn't told he was being left out, and Trapattoni subsequently apologised for not informing Keogh – who had turned up for the summer trip to the USA as well as the friendly with Wales in Cardiff – of his omission.

He was in the provisional 40-man squad for the Latvia/Poland games, but didn't make the cut for the final squad.

"There might be a different squad for the next game next year as it seems that Martin O'Neill didn't pick the last squad, so you never know who will be in it. For me, it's about getting my name back out there again and showing what I can do.

"It's all about opinions and all that matters from now on is what Martin O'Neill thinks. But if I am playing well for my club and scoring goals, it will only do me good."

But the club scene is a struggle for Keogh at the moment, who has been restricted to occasional appearances for the Lions, and, sometimes on match day, he is not even in the squad under Steve Lomas.

"We had a tough start to the season, the manager came in with new ideas and new players and he was obviously going to give the new players a chance," Keogh says.

"I have kept working hard, I have scored a lot of goals in those behind-closed-doors friendly games and I feel I am knocking on the door of the first team, but I can't do a lot more.

"My contract runs out next summer, so I can only work as hard as I can on the training ground between now and then, but something will have to give. I will see what comes up in January in terms of a loan or a move away if that is on offer and if it will help my career, if things are not happening for me here at Millwall.

 

Frozen

"I can't say I am completely frozen out, but I am in and out of things, sometimes I am on the bench and for some games I am up in the stand, and that is very frustrating.

"It's tough, I am still joint-top scorer at the club, which is crazy given that I haven't really played since September, I scored three goals in the first four games and that record still stands.

"I know I have a lot to offer, with the club and with Ireland, but it is hard when you are not playing. I feel there is room for me in the squad, with the club and with Ireland," added Keogh.

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