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Relaxed skipper Robbie Keane ready to get going at last

“We had a spa day yesterday, massages and stuff like that. It was a good relaxing day and you could see that. It was back again to sharpness on the pitch today.”

Ireland skipper Robbie Keane during squad training this morning.  Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

IN CERTAIN WAYS, the two or three days before a tournament begins can be the most testing. The questions and themes are getting repetitive. The training sessions are getting repetitive. All the players want to do is get out and get it started.

As such, Robbie Keane certainly caught the mood today.

“We’re desperate to get started. It’s been a long few weeks. It’s been a very good few weeks. The atmosphere around the place has been brilliant. I think everybody’s just looking forward to Sunday now.”

Keane cut a very relaxed figure as he spoke to the media outside Gdnyia’s Municipal Stadium, with yesterday’s day off clearly having had the required effect.

“We had a spa day yesterday, massages and stuff like that. It was a good relaxing day and you could see that. It was back again to sharpness on the pitch today.”

Sharpness, but not exactly shuffling about. Tallying with Marco Tardelli and Giovanni Trapattoni have been saying, the Irish team now seem highly unlikely to switch to three in midfield for Croatia with Keane explaining that they hadn’t worked on it at all.

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“No, [we haven’t done any new formation work] yet. We’ve had the same system since the manager has taken over. The players have got used to that. If there was an adjustment, it would be a minor thing. I think, as players, you always set different roles when you get out on the pitch.

“Myself, for example, I sit on the holding midfielder and don’t let him dictate the game too much. It’ll be little small things like that [that we do]. I wouldn’t say it would be the formation changes. We wouldn’t just automatically go to a 4-3-3 when we haven’t done it for a long time.”

Keane did say, however, that he is perfectly prepared to fill the manager’s much-mentioned ‘Totti role’ if that is required to provide a little more flexibility.

“It’s something that I’ve done. I’ve kind if played two different roles, at club level and international level. International, the pressure is on me to score. Club level, I kind of play in that number-10 anyway. Maybe, if the manager wants me to do that role which, I’m sure in certain games, he will, it is something I’ve done before so it wouldn’t be a problem.”

There was a rather humorous moment, as well, as Keane was asked whether he had a special message for German television… but also a revealing one.

“It’s good to see German TV down here even if we’re not playing them… hopefully that’ll be in the final. (Ireland are 37/1 to make the decider on Betfair)

“We’re not coming to this competition to make the numbers up. We’re here to do as well as we can for the country. Hopefully we go as far as we can and try and see if we can win it.”

Certainly, Keane just wants to get out there and start trying to.

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