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robbie: i'm keane on new blood

ON A night when all the pre-match talk was about his 100th cap, Robbie Keane gave the captain's approval to the newest debutant on the senior international scene.

Keane was three months short of his 18th birthday when he made his home debut for Ireland against Argentina in the old Lansdowne Road, his longevity underlined by the fact that, of the 15 men who played for Ireland that day, only five others (Shay Given, Ian Harte, Lee Carlsey, Kevin Kilbane and Rory Delap) are still playing football at any level. Not only that, it's so long ago that one of the Irish players from that game saw his own son this week play for the Ireland U19 side (Denis Irwin's lad, Liam).

Hard to know if Keith Treacy, 21, will get close to the 100-cap mark but the Preston winger certainly made an impression on Keane when he came on as a sub for Keith Fahey.

"Keith Treacy did well when he came on. He was a real threat and I was delighted with what he did when he came on, that was a really positive factor from last night for us. And it was good to see young Greg Cunningham come on too, he looked very composed," said Keane.

"And Paul Green came in and did well. He gets amongst things and tries to play the ball, he did really well again. It would have been nice to get a win to start off our record at the new stadium but it wasn't to be. I would have loved to score a goal to make the occasion but it was only half-chances really.

"Overall the night went well but we still lost the game and we want to win every game we play. So we move on to the next game in Armenia. Even the timing of the game wasn't ideal, three days before the league season starts," added Keane.

"In the first half it was very difficult to keep the ball, we were chasing shadows at times. But that's what you get when you play such a great team and we were better in the second half. In that first half we were running around without getting on the ball, they just passed it around us.

"Being honest, all of the fuss surrounding the game was a bit of distraction, the new stadium and all of that. But that's gone now and when the games come around now, we can just focus on the matches themselves.

"We did miss having Giovanni there last night. He's our manager and our leader so we wanted to have him there but hopefully he'll be back very soon. He's a fit man so we look forward to seeing him soon."