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Martin O'Neill Had A Very Blunt Response To Robbie Keane's Euro 2016 Doubters

Martin O'Neill Had A Very Blunt Response To Robbie Keane's Euro 2016 Doubters
By Gary Reilly

There were growing whispers about Robbie Keane's international future in the build up to the play-off first leg in Zenica? Those whispers have been around for a while but there was something more definite this time. Would he have retired from international football had the play-off against Bosnia not gone the way it did?

We can't say for certain one way or another but you have to think there would have been little motivation to keep going. Another qualification cycle would be a bridge too far so, for someone with his record, ticking over in meaningless friendlies for the next year would have been an unlikely and unfitting scenario.

Instead, we have one more major championship for Ireland's greatest goalscorer to add to his 67 goals. And make no doubt about it, he's going to be on the plane. There have been some suggestions that Keane may not/should not make the final 23 man squad. Perhaps there's some merit to that argument but don't bother telling Martin O'Neill that.

Judging by the Ireland manager's response to whether Keane had a part to play at Euro 2016, it's fairly definitive that, barring injury, Robbie Keane's name is already on the final squad list.

Absolutely. He’s our best goalscorer, at the end of the day. Shane Long has done great and some of these players, like Shane Long, can still learn from Robbie Keane.

Speaking following the Euro 2016 draw in Paris, O'Neill was also asked whether Keane would be brought along for the sake of sentimentality, the Ireland boss was less than delighted with the question.

Would I bring Robbie Keane for sentiment sake? That would be just about as black a mark against Robbie Keane as you’re likely to give him. Robbie Keane has been terrific in this group of players here.

And I’ll tell you why he has, not just because he’s had a really, really brilliant career, but when he’s been left out of the side his encouragement to the other players, not only in the dressing-room but around about the hotel, has been absolutely terrific.

Enough of that then. Keane is going to the Euros and that's the correct decision. It would be a travesty to leave him at home. Perhaps if we had a litany of striking options then there may be an argument but we simply don't. If you're bringing four strikers then it's going to be Keane, Long, Walters and Murphy.

Outside that you have the likes of David McGoldrick, Anthony Stokes and Kevin Doyle. He may not be a starter but bringing Keane of the bench is without a doubt the best option there. He'll be going to France and the arguments should stop there.

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[Irish Examiner]

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