Roy Keane has insisted Robbie Keane still has a significant role to play for the Republic of Ireland despite being dropped for the first time in 13 years.
The 34-year-old LA Galaxy striker headed back to the United States on Saturday after being released from the squad a day after being used only as a substitute in Ireland's 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifier defeat in Scotland.
It was the first time the Dubliner, who will begin preparations for next Sunday's MLS play-offs showdown with Seattle Sounders on his return, has been left out of the team for a competitive match when fit since a clash with Estonia in 2001.
However, assistant manager Keane, a former Ireland team-mate, was adamant that the nation's record cap-holder and goalscorer remains a key member of Martin O'Neill's squad.
He said: "Robbie Keane is massive for this team, absolutely massive.
"Everyone keeps saying he was disappointed - of course he was. Tell me any player who is going to be left out of a big game who is not going to be disappointed. That's what you expect from Robbie.
"But Robbie is brilliant for the group and brilliant for the team. He's a top, top player, he's been doing it for years and hopefully he will score goals for the next number of years."
The frontman, who took his tally for his country to 65 goals with a hat-trick against Gibraltar last month, had only 12 minutes in which to try to make an impression as he won his 138th cap at Celtic Park, and his frustration was clear afterwards.
He told reporters he needed to play as part of an attacking partnership and that he was not suited to a lone striking role, admitting he was "no Niall Quinn", the towering striker whose previous Irish record of 21 goals he passed a decade ago. Asked about that statement, Roy Keane said: "He's a lot better than Niall Quinn."