Keogh: 'We're taking steps in the right direction'
Ireland captain Richard Keogh feels that the squad are on the road to success and can prove that at home to Wales tomorrow night.
Saturday's 0-0 draw at home to Denmark extended the side's unbeaten run to two games, and while Wales will provide a tough test at Lansdowne Road tomorrow, Keogh is adamant that the side have moved on from the debacle of the 4-1 loss in Wales and are more sure in their footing.
"If you look at the last game to this game, there is an improvement so that's a step in the right direction. Obviously we didn't get off to a great start in the group so we need to get back to basics. I think we took the confidence from the Poland game into the Denmark game," he said after Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Danes.
"So that's two good performances now and onto tomorrow which is a big game, hopefully we can get a positive result and hopefully get ourselves back in the group. When you suffer a heavy defeat, it knocks confidence. We didn't perform on the night for sure.
"The lads who went out in Poland and put in a good performance gave everyone in the group a lift.
"We knew Denmark at home was a tough game, but the group have been great, we had a good week training, we worked on quite a few things and I think we showed that. We showed the togetherness that we are all about, could we have done some things better? Yeah.
"But I feel we had some decent chances and on another night we could have won the game.
"When you play in any group and it's a tight group, you've got to put as many points on the board as possible. So we've got a point on the board, a clean sheet and we go into Tuesday's game trying to win the game.
"We try to win every game. At times we're going to have to defend. But I think we've shown we can play well against the big teams," added the Derby County player.
He got the nod to start, ahead of the likes of Ciaran Clark and John Egan, and was also handed the captain's armband, Keogh comfortable in the three-man defence largely due to his past experience at right back.
"I think that's maybe why the manager plays me there," he says.
"If I have to get out wide one v one, I'm quite comfortable doing that. I think there are times it's three at the back, sometimes the wide centre backs have to go out there and defend, I think naturally for me, it's not a problem. "Cyrus (Christie) and Docs (Matt Doherty), James McClean and Enda (Stevens), they're used to that formation and it gives them the opportunity to get up the pitch as well, an extra midfielder. I think with the personnel we've got, it suits us," he added.
Keogh captained the side for the fourth time, chosen ahead of candidates like James McClean and Shane Duffy, and he says it's a major honour.
"It's the biggest achievement of my career," he says.
"If you had said to me when I was starting out as a kid that I would get to captain my country, I don't think I would have believed it."