'If you think our mindset is a draw, then you are sadly mistaken. We’re here to win' - Keane

Ireland’s assistant boss insists they will be ready for Wales despite several missing players.

Keane kicks a ball during Ireland's training session.
Keane kicks a ball during Ireland's training session.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ROY KEANE SAYS there will be no excuses when Ireland step out onto the Lansdowne Road pitch to take on Wales.

Ahead of a vital World Cup qualifier in Dublin this Friday, Martin O’Neill’s squad has been ravaged by no less than eight injuries as well as the suspension to the newly-crowned FAI International Player of the Year Robbie Brady.

Everton midfielder James McCarthy is also doubtful, but assistant boss Keane has faith that other players will step up to the plate.

“We’re not really in control of it,” Keane said of the long injury list. “We obviously selected a large number of players. One or two were doubtful beforehand, which we knew, and it was just the lads (who got injured) over the last few days that you were hoping would make it.

“People like (James) McCarthy would be a big doubt but you could waste your time and energy talking about the lads who aren’t here or the lads who are injured.

We’ve got to focus on the game and the lads we have, but if you keep talking about the lads who aren’t here it is being disrespectful to the group you still have.

“We’ve got a good group of players and we’ll be ready for Friday night. There’ll be no excuses. We’ll have 11 lads starting and we’ll have lads off the bench.

“It happens to other players, other teams, other clubs — it happens to international managers. We’ll be ready Friday one way or another.”


Ireland top of Group D as the campaign nears the halfway point, with Serbia two points back in second and Friday’s opponents Wales on six points after four qualifiers.

Considering the number of absentees, a draw wouldn’t be the worst result but Keane refuted such suggestions.

“I know working with the manager and the group of players that we have, if you think our mindset — going into the game of football on Friday night at the Aviva — is a draw, then you are sadly mistaken.” he added. “We’re here to win.

“We came into the job, we know the players two or three years… we’re here to win.”


The biggest threat to Ireland will undoubtedly be Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale and former Manchester United and Celtic midfielder Keane is a big fan.

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“Bale is a top, top player,” he said. “He’s a brilliant player who has been doing it regularly at the highest level for the last few years.

“I have always liked him –- I even liked him when I was manager at Sunderland. He came up with Southampton and he was the best player on the park. I think he equalised in injury time and was excellent –- and that was at left-back.

You follow his career from the outside looking in, but he’s obviously a talented boy who has fulfilled his potential and probably more.

“I like watching him playing. He’s a big player for Wales and a big player for Real Madrid. It’s not a day for comparing him to other players. He’s a brilliant, brilliant footballer in his own right.

“Our lads should look forward to the challenge of playing against the best. You want to play with the best and against the best, and we’ll have a chance on Friday because Bale is up there with some of the top players in the world. There is no getting away from that.”

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Ben Blake

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