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Richard Keogh pictured during today's pre-match press conference.
Richard Keogh pictured during today's pre-match press conference.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'We are still possibly learning the system, to get it to exactly how we want'

Richard Keogh has suggested it will take Ireland time to adapt to the 3-5-2 formation.
Oct 15th 2018, 3:04 PM 5,636 1

Updated at 16.21

- Paul Fennessy reports from Abbotstown

IRELAND’S RICHARD KEOGH has hailed the influence of Derby coach Frank Lampard on him at club level, while urging patience as Ireland adapt to the 3-5-2 system they have employed in recent matches.

The former England midfielder agreed to take charge of the Rams in the summer in what is his first job in management.

And with Keogh a regular starter, Lampard has helped guide the team to their current position of eighth in the Championship after 12 games.

The 32-year-old centre-back also played a full part in unquestionably his club’s highlight of the season so far — a shock penalty shootout League Cup triumph over Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, after the match had ended 2-2 in normal time.

“He’s been good for myself, obviously,” Keogh says of the Chelsea legend. “He’s a young manager coming through and the gaffer [Martin O'Neill] can speak for how hard it can be for a first-time manager to come into a club.

“But so far he has come in and really done well with us. He has set his own standard in what he expects of us, and we’ve been ticking over quite nicely.

“Obviously we’d like a few more points on the board, we probably deserve that, we’ve lost a few games that we shouldn’t have lost.

“But the Man United performance shows the kind of level that we can get to if we play to it.”

Keogh, who captained the Irish team on Saturday night during the Denmark stalemate in the absence of the injured Seamus Coleman, admits that the Boys in Green are still “learning” the 3-5-2 system they have played in the last two matches, but insists he feels comfortable as part of the backline.

“I really enjoy the system,” he says. “Obviously I spoke to the manager about it before and I’m quite comfortable going out to the right-back area and defending one-v-one.

“I’ve done that throughout my career and yeah, like I say, our strength as a back three is defending the box.

Hopefully, I’d like to think, on the ball we can offer something as well and give it to the more creative players.

“I think we are still possibly learning the system, to get it to exactly how we want, but with the last two performances, we have shown we are moving in the right direction.”

Despite some criticism of the team’s attacking play on Saturday against the Danes, with opposition midfielder Thomas Delaney branding Ireland’s style of play “primitive,” Keogh believes there were “a lot of positives” to take from a performance, particularly with the team having conceded nine goals in their two previous competitive games.

“The clean-sheet for us was a big thing,” he explains.

“We took the positives from Poland, playing that formation, into this game and yeah, as a whole team and as a back-three I thought we defended very well.

Now we have to make sure we have more patterns of play like we did at times in the second-half, where once we played well and got our patterns going we were a big threat.

“We obviously have to have more moments like that during the game.

“But I’m more than confident in this group that we can go out there and put in a good performance and get a good result.”

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Paul Fennessy

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