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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 29 May, 2020

'I’ve no problem speaking to players or staff members if I feel I’ve gone overboard'

Roy Keane was in front of the media on Ireland’s final day in Dublin before they fly out for Euro 2016.

Keane speaking at FAI headquarters.
Keane speaking at FAI headquarters.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THERE WAS MIXED news on the injury front this afternoon as the Ireland squad took part in their final session before departing for France.

Martin O’Neill, his backroom staff and the 23 players board a flight to Paris tomorrow morning and will set up base in Versailles ahead of their Euro 2016 Group E opener against Sweden at the Stade de France on Monday.

After the tropical weather of the past week, a light drizzle descended on the FAI’s National Training Centre in Dublin, where captain Robbie Keane took full part for a second consecutive day as he looks to shake off a calf injury.

“Robbie started and finished the session and so far there’s no reaction,” assistant manager Roy Keane told the media during his briefing. “He looks as sharp as ever.”

Robbie Keane Robbie Keane was back training today. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The other main injury concern is Jon Walters (Achilles), who did some work in the gym before going for a light jog. A vital player in the qualification campaign, O’Neill is willing to wait until the last minute for the Stoke City forward to prove his fitness.

“It’s not ideal but he’s feeling a bit better in himself,” said Keane. “The medical staff are looking after him. No player likes to miss any sort of training but I think there has been an improvement. Jon himself is looking more positive about it and we’re probably looking at the end of the week.

“Jon’s a fit lad anyway so hopefully that won’t be a problem for next week. The closer we get to the game, the more Jon will be the biggest worry but we play it by ear. It’s one of those one things.”

Norwich City wide man Robbie Brady also sat out the session after suffering back spasms over the weekend but Keane ensured that it was just precautionary.

“I think Robbie’s fine, he was even tempted to train today,” Keane added. “With us travelling tomorrow, that gives him another day’s recovery.

They’re important players for us and had a big part to play in the campaign. Jon is a big character for us and Robbie has done really well — particularly on his set-play deliveries.”

Brady added: “I feel great. It’s just a precaution today more than anything. I was ready to train but there’s no rush as we’ve more than enough days to get ready for Monday’s game.

“It was just more of a rest day and I’m ready to go. At the time I was thinking ‘this is the last thing I need’ but within a few hours I was getting back to myself.”

Robbie Brady Robbie Brady sits in the dug-out. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Many of the 24 teams competing at the finals have already touched down in France and the squad are now eager to do the same, according to the Ireland number two.

“I wouldn’t say (the players are) frustrated but when we get out there tomorrow we’ll be glad of it,” said Keane. “It will be nice to get on the plane and get over there. When the first game starts, the tournament starts and before you know it we’ll be straight into it.

You always have to remind yourself to enjoy it, even the next few days. Then we get down to serious business next week.”

Having criticised a number of the players in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat to Belarus at Turner’s Cross last week, Keane also explained how he had apologised for going over-the-top with some of his comments.

“I’m not going to go into what I say or don’t say to the players privately. I spoke to a few of the players, not just Aiden (McGeady), and I’ve done that throughout my career — as a player and as a manager at Sunderland and Ipswich.

“I’ve no problem speaking to players or staff members, if I feel I’ve gone overboard. So that isn’t an issue for me.”

With six days to go until the Boys in Green take on the Swedes in Paris, Keane insists that preparations are coming along nicely.

“I think they’re ready,” he explained. “The game is a few days away yet but if you told me it was tomorrow, no problem. In terms of the balance with the training and the workload, we will get that right in the next few days.

“I said it last week, if any team — Sweden, Belgium, Italy — are going to beat Ireland, they’re going to have to play well.”

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Ben Blake

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