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Tuesday 13 November 2018

'We'll be a different animal when injured stars return' - Keogh

Ireland captain Richard Keogh insists results will improve when injured players return
Ireland captain Richard Keogh insists results will improve when injured players return

Ireland captain Richard Keogh believes that the Republic's squad will experience be a "different animal" once injured players are fit to play again.

Ireland are headed for relegation in the Nations League but despite the poor displays against Wales (twice) and Denmark, Keogh feels that the loss to injury of key men like Robbie Brady, Séamus Coleman and James McCarthy, on top of retirements for the likes of Wes Hoolahan and John O'Shea, has hurt the squad.

"We lost some big characters who retired but if you think about it we are missing some massive players," says Keogh.

"Brady is a very influential player for us, James McCarthy, Seamie Coleman, Shane (Long) has done well for us but he's not been fully fit. You get all these players back and we are a different team, I think once we get them back we are a good team," added Keogh, who claims that losing top-flight footballers like Brady leaves a gap that's hard to plug.

"It hinders us for sure, they are Premier League players, very good Premier League players, if you take that out of any team it will hurt you," he added.

"But the reality is that's the situation the manager has to deal with, boys are stepping up, they are young and need experience, and nights like this against Wales will help them throughout their career and with Ireland.

"If you look at the people coming through they have potential, they are young and hungry and want to play for Ireland, and sometimes you have to do a rebuild and at the moment that is the situation, but when we get these players back we are a different animal."

Keogh also backed manager Martin O'Neill to lead the side on to Euro 2020.

"I think the manager has done a fantastic job here, his track record proves that, not just with Ireland but at club level as well, he's had a magnificent career, he has given a lot of us in that dressing room memories forever and a lot of that is down to him," he says.

"If you ask any player in that squad we are all fighting for the same thing, we enjoy playing for him, the manager is very good and I see no reason for that to change.

"I have been involved in a group where people didn't really fancy us to qualify from but I am pretty sure that when we get these players back, with the group we've got, we have a really good shot at doing that."

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