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Martin Rickett McCarthy attampting to tackle Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne.
# take one for the team
Ireland players need to be more streetwise like Italy and make clever fouls, says Keane
‘You do whatever you can to get the right result and if that’s fouling, then you foul’.

- Ben Blake reports from Versailles

IRELAND ASSISTANT BOSS Roy Keane has called on the players to be more “streetwise” when they take on Italy at Euro 2016 later this week.

The former Manchester United midfielder, who enjoyed the physical side of the game during his playing days, watched on as both James McCarthy and Ciaran Clark missed challenges and lost their markers at key moments in Monday’s 3-0 defeat to Belgium.

Speaking to the media today ahead of the clash with Italy on Wednesday, Keane suggested that there are times that it would be better to “take one for the team” with a timely foul than allow the opposition a goalscoring opportunity.

“My advice would probably be, yeah, take him out,” said Keane. “We saw Italy do it against Belgium. A player did it on the halfway line and got a yellow card. He literally jumped all over someone’s back when Belgium were breaking, and then he kicked the ball out of play.

“So that’s where you go back to the Italians — you have got to be streetwise in this game. We’re not here to make friends, the fans are doing that.

“But from the players’ point of view, if you smell danger, if you can hold the player up and you can win the ball, fantastic. But if you think ‘we’re in trouble here’, then you do whatever you can to get the right result, and if that’s fouling, then you foul.

It’s not a crime, you might get a yellow card, you might even get a red, but your team might win.

“Sacrifices, you’ve got to make sacrifices for your team. Does that answer your question? “What do you think I would do?”

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McCarthy has come in for heavy criticism after two poor performances at the tournament, and Keane will be looking for a reaction from the Everton midfielder if he gets the nod on Wednesday.

“Footballers make mistakes — every footballer,” he added.

“We trained this morning and the players made loads of mistakes. It’s how you react to it, and James and other players will make more mistakes.

“It’s how you deal with the setbacks, that’s what sets you apart from the others. We saw (Cristiano) Ronaldo missing a penalty the other night — one of the greatest players of all time.

“Players make mistakes, media make mistakes. I think sometimes the media gets stuff wrong. Very rarely, I appreciate that, but they do. It’s the nature of the game we’re in.

“These boys will be fine. They’re a good group.”

Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Media Activity - June 20th Chris Radburn Ireland training this afternoon. Chris Radburn

Ireland failed to keep possession for any length of time against Belgium and more often than not opted to play long balls up to lone striker Shane Long, a tactic which proved ineffective as he was bullied by the likes of Jan Verthongen, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld.

Keane admitted they were sloppy in Bordeaux and he believes Ireland must keep the ball better if they are to have any hope of getting a result against the Azzurri.

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“The problem is when you’re chasing the ball quite a bit and you do get it, your concentration levels can be down and that’s when you make mistakes,” said Keane. “That’s why it’s so important to look after the ball.

“But, yes, that frustrated the manager and all of us the other day, whatever about the individual mistakes, that we gave the ball away far too cheaply.

“We do a lot of possession in training anyway, but you have got to take care of the ball, you really have to look after it.

“It’s no problem giving it away when you’re trying stuff 20 or 30 yards from goal, but when you’re sloppy around the middle of the park, it just puts you under massive pressure.

When you give the ball away so cheaply against a good team, you’re in big trouble and we got punished for that because even a couple of the goals. We were in decent possession and gave it away cheaply.

“That can come sometimes just from lack of concentration. We’d had a big game three or fours days earlier – we have got to get the levels up where lads can play three big games in nine or 10 days.

“I actually enjoy that in sport, I like that side of it where if you’re not at your best, you get punished. That’s the name of the game, and we did the other day.

“But certainly if we are as sloppy in possession against Italy, there’s a good chance it’s going to be the same result because we are up against quality players and quality players will punish you.”

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

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