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Strachan puzzle-d by idea of Keane distraction

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Gordon Strachan. Photo: PA Wire

Gordon Strachan. Photo: PA Wire

Gordon Strachan. Photo: PA Wire

GORDON Strachan laughed off suggestions that Roy Keane's current circumstances might impact on Ireland's preparations for a night of nights in Celtic Park.

Asked whether he was pleased that his own build-up has been low-key and without incident, Strachan chuckled to himself.

"I don't know about that. I have to deal with Mark McGhee every day wanting to play Scrabble. Two hours we were at it last night. I didn't win a match," he laughed and set a much more reasonable tone than he did a week ago.

Back then, he encouraged Scottish fans to have a right go at Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy but this was a much more conciliatory narrative. "If you look at Ireland's squad, you say he's a good player, he's a good player. The pitch will be full of good players.

"Go right through the squad and you couldn't separate them. There are terrific players on the Irish side backed up with good players. No player in either squad is out of place."

That assessment leads Strachan to believe that Group D will be decided by the finest of margins.

Occasion

"If you take Gibraltar out of the occasion, every game has been won by one goal, which shows you how tight it is," he said. "I wouldn't say this is a must-win game, you can only ask players to go out and perform and that's what they have been doing.

"If you look at Germany, with the chances they have had, they'll probably be thinking they should have nine points at the moment but it hasn't worked out that way, so you never know when the big game is coming, the must-win game.

"We'll have a far better idea of how tough a task we will face when we have all played each other once and can see where we are standing.

"On the night you have to be at your best as individuals. It could come down to a bit of bad luck - or good luck. I hope it comes down to which team performs the best."


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