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O'Neill gives strong indication that Robbie Keane's Ireland career is over

The country’s record caps holder and top goalscorer is expected to make a statement regarding his international future in the coming weeks.

O'Neill and Keane.
O'Neill and Keane.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS stongly-hinted that Robbie Keane is about to announce his retirement from international football.

In a week that 134-cap Shay Given called time on his 20-year association with the senior set-up, the Ireland boss admitted a couple of his older players would inevitably step aside before the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off in September.

And while O’Neill has pleaded with John O’Shea to stick around for another two-year cycle, he revealed that record caps holder and goalscorer Robbie Keane is set to hang up his international boots.

LA Galaxy striker Keane, who turned 36 earlier this month, is expected to release a statement on his future in the coming weeks and could say his farewell to fans in the friendly against Oman at the Aviva Stadium on 31 August.

“I’ve spoken to Robbie and I think he will make an announcement pretty soon so I think I will leave that to him,” O’Neill said, speaking after the FAI Senior Cup third round draw in Clonmel this morning.

He has some time left with LA Galaxy and I think it might be a case of concentrating with that. Since I’ve spoken to him, I’ll let him speak — either through himself or through his agent.”

Martin O'Neill O'Neill speaking today. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Neill praised the contribution Given made to Irish football in a statement released by the FAI last night, but he again took the opportunity to thank the veteran goalkeeper for his services.

“He has been a fantastic goalkeeper — not only for the Republic of Ireland but he proved his worth at Premier League level week-in week-out,” added O’Neill.

“All you have to do is listen to some of the great players who played with him and who know how much he was thought of.”

Celtic defender Eoghan O’Connell has caught the attention this week with an assured display for the Hoops in Champions League third qualifying round against Astana.

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When asked about the 20-year-old Cork native, O’Neill said he is one of several players he would like to see in the near future.

“I have a number of names that I would like to look at,” said O’Neill. “A few things have happened since the Euros have finished.

“I didn’t know that we had the eldest squad at the Euros in terms of years, but I don’t think you would consider the likes of Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Seamus Coleman (as old).

“Seamus is playing splendidly and he has been really, really great. When he took the captaincy, he was magnificent for us.

“We have the nucleus of a very talented 20-something-year-old players playing in the side, who were magnificent in the tournament.

If one or two of the older players drop out, we can add one or two young players coming in like (Shane) Duffy. That’s the evolution that we want.

“I don’t want them to drop away that quickly, because they have been nothing short of brilliant for this squad, and I include John O’Shea in that.

“I spoke to John and encouraged him that if he had any thoughts of retiring, I would like him to stay around. I’m not guaranteeing anything but he, like Shay Given, was fantastic.

“Players are not around to just be good around the squad, but it’s essentially for their ability that I would want them to stay.”

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Ben Blake

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