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'It will be an absolute shame if we didn't qualify and there are four games in Dublin'

Robbie Keane says it’s even more important Republic of Ireland qualify for next summer’s European Championships.

ROBBIE KEANE ADMITS it ‘will be an absolute shame’ if the Republic of Ireland fail to qualify for next summer’s European Championships, with four games being staged at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Mick McCarthy’s side are currently top of their qualifying group at the halfway mark of the campaign, but the Boys in Green face into a defining set of fixtures later this year.

Wes Hoolahan celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Glenn Whelan and Robbie Brady Three years ago today, Wes Hoolahan scored against Sweden at Euro 2016. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

For the first time, the tournament — to be staged from 12 June to 12 July, 2020 — will be held across Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the competition, with the Aviva one of the host venues. 

The home of Irish soccer is due to stage four games during the tournament, including a quarter-final tie, and should Ireland qualify for their third consecutive European Championships, they will play two or three of their group games in Dublin.

With 10 points from their opening four qualification fixtures, McCarthy’s side are in a healthy position heading into the second half of the campaign, but stern tests against Switzerland [h], Georgia [a], Switzerland [a] and Denmark [h] await in the Autumn.

“First and foremost, we’ve got a good chance of qualifying,” assistant coach Keane said.

“We’re in a good position in terms of the team, how we are and how we’re going to set ourselves up against the teams that we’re going to be playing against.

“To be playing two, possibly three, games at home in Dublin in the Euros would be huge for the nation. Absolutely huge. It’s up to us as coaching staff and players to make sure that happens because it will be an absolute shame if we didn’t qualify and there are four games in Dublin.

“Without Ireland being in any competition, I don’t think it’s a good thing because of the way we behave, the way our fans are and the way they go to places and treat people. You ask anyone outside of Ireland, every other nation wants the Republic of Ireland to be in the tournament because of the fans.” 

Although Ireland recorded their third win of the campaign against Gibraltar on Monday evening, the performance left a lot to be desired as the hosts struggled to convert their chances.

Even still, Keane has been impressed with David McGoldrick’s performances during the first half of the campaign. 

Robbie Keane Keane speaking in Dublin yesterday. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“I’ve been impressed with the forwards,” he continued. “David McGoldrick has been unbelievable with the way he’s been playing. Naturally likes to come deep but he can play a bit higher and then start to drop deep but when he starts to play in the Premier League it’ll be a different ball game.

“You get one chance in the Premier League. You might get four or five chances in the Championship but in the Premier League you get one chance and you have to take it. He’s well aware of that.”

Looking ahead to the visit of Switzerland in September, Keane added: “If we get chances we’ll score. There’s no question about it. The lads are trying to do it. It’s not like they’re not trying. You can see they’re trying to score.

“It might take a while for lads to understand each other. Scotty [Hogan] hasn’t played with a few of the other players and there’s other stuff that comes into it as well but as long as they’re doing the right thing and seen to be doing the right thing then it’s not a problem. If it doesn’t come off they’re trying to do the right thing.”

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Ryan Bailey

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