Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keane warns players to show commitment to Ireland

Ireland captain Robbie Keane has warned players to commit fully to Irelands cause or not play at all.

Keane has been bemused by the high number of players who have pulled out from international duty for the Carling Nations Cup this past week.

Ireland have had plenty of problems with mystery initially surrounding the failure of James McCarthy, Jon Walters and Marc Wilson to report for duty.

The Tottenham striker said: 'I think that is obviously clear to see. It frustrates everybody but what can you do about it? I don't know the answer.

'I have never once pulled out of a squad for any reason apart being injured. I am a proud Irishman. As a kid growing up it was always a dream to play for my country.

'I still have that same hunger and enthusiasm that I had when I first had the opportunity. That will never change for me.'

Trapattoni is equally surprised by some players' apparent lack of appetite for international football and feels they will live to regret it.

The veteran Italian boss said: 'When they retire they will understand. I never always understood what was important when I was younger. In time they will think and they will understand.'

Ireland now want to draw a line under the issue as they step up preparations for next week's return qualifier in Macedonia.

They face Scotland tomorrow in the final match of the Nations Cup in Dublin and Keane is expecting stiffer competition than in Tuesday's 5-0 trouncing of Northern Ireland.

Keane said: "They have players coming through and players established in the Premier League. It is going to be tough for us. No disrespect to Northern Ireland, I am sure it will be a bigger test.

'I watched their game (against Wales) and I was very impressed with them.'

Keane, already Ireland's record goalscorer, struck twice on Tuesday to take his tally for the country to 48 and now has his sights set on a half-century.

'If you'd asked me a few years ago when I started off, I wouldn't even have dreamed of scoring 50 goals,' he said.

'My aim was to beat Niall Quinn's record (of 21). I did that and I'm lucky enough the goals have kept coming. If I don't do it tomorrow, hopefully it will against Macedonia.

'If it does happen it will be a very proud moment, obviously I'd be delighted.'