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Kilbane: Ireland shouldn't fear Poland but Keane has to start

The ex-Ireland international gave his thoughts on the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifier and which players he would bring back into the team.

Kilbane was in Dublin yesterday at the FAI Junior Cup quarter-final draw.
Kilbane was in Dublin yesterday at the FAI Junior Cup quarter-final draw.
Image: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

IRELAND HAVE NOTHING to fear heading into their crucial Euro 2016 qualifier later this month, says Kevin Kilbane.

Level on seven points with Germany and Scotland after four games played, the Boys in Green welcome Group D leaders Poland, to Dublin on Sunday, 29 March.

The Poles hold a three-point cushion at the top thanks to wins over world champions Germany, Georgia and Gibraltar as well as a 2-2 draw at home to Scotland and the game is make-or-break for Ireland’s chances of making the finals in France.

“I’ve seen Poland play throughout the group and Scotland outplayed them for long periods of the game and should have won it and were unlucky not to,” Kilbane said.

“They got a great result against Germany but the Germans could have had two or three goals themselves. I wouldn’t want to judge them solely on that performance. They played well, got a result and I’m not denying that. But overall throughout this campaign we’re not too dissimilar.

“We shouldn’t be fearing them coming over here and I think we have to win it. The Scotland game wasn’t a great performance and we need to bounce back at home.

“It’s a big chance for us and we have plenty of experience in the squad to get a result.

There will be a lot of Polish here that night and we’ve got to generate a good atmosphere because it hasn’t been when we have played at the stadium over the years. Hopefully we can have it buzzing and get the right result.”

Ireland’s suffered a 1-0 loss away to the Scots in their most recent qualifier back in November, when Martin O’Neill opted to drop captain Robbie Keane and start with John Walters and Shane Long up front.

Kilbane, who played in the same international team as the LA Galaxy striker between 1997-2011, is in no doubt that he would play Ireland’s all-time leading goalscorer from the start at the Aviva Stadium.

“I think he should start and he should have started against Scotland,” he said. “I can understand the reasons behind it as he might have wanted to go with a bit more pace with Jonny Walters and Shane Long but this game is going to come down to fine margins and over the years Robbie has proved it.

“He is the best striker and the best goalscorer that we have. He has been that man so many times for us and I think he can do it again.

“Jon Walters is having another solid season at Stoke. Energy-wise and work rate, he is excellent and I think he is the man in pole position to play either off him or around him. I think he will be a starter too.

Britain Scotland Ireland Euro2016 Soccer Ireland's Jon Walters. Source: Scott Heppell

Kilbane also believes Shay Given should get the nod ahead of David Forde between the sticks — but adds that it is unlikely to happen.

“He is Aston Villa’s best keeper and he has proved it again,” added Kilbane. “I can’t believe he is being overlooked and I think they are missing a trick not playing him.

“It’s a difficult call because David Forde has done so well and he has probably earned his place. So I don’t envisage Martin leaving him out but I still think Shay is Ireland’s number one.

Kevin Kilbane was in Dublin yesterday for the FAI Junior Cup quarter-final draw, which took place at the Aviva Stadium. You can see the draw in full here

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Ben Blake

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