/ Euro 2012

Keane happy to play in deeper role

Updated: Friday, 08 Jun 2012 11:39 | Comments

Robbie Keane believes Ireland's potential tactical change is a minor one
Robbie Keane believes Ireland's potential tactical change is a minor one

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By Glenn Mason

Robbie Keane has said he is happy to play in a deeper role if required during the Republic Ireland's games in Euro 2012.

Ireland's back four have been exposed by teams playing a more fluid system, as they are able find gaps in between the banks of four in a rigid 4-4-2 formation.

The latest example came on Monday night in Hungary when Balazs Dzsudzsak wandered freely into space around Ireland's box.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni said after that game that he would be willing to sacrifice a striker for an extra man in midfield to stop Ireland getting overrun.

Keane said that Trapattoni has not yet spoken to the players about any formation changes, but said they would be willing to adapt.

He said: "We have kind of done the same system since the manager took over, so the players are certainly used to that.

"But if there was an adjustment, it would be little minor things, I think.

"As players, you are always set different roles when you go out on to the pitch. Myself, for example, to just sit on the holding midfielder and don't let him dictate the game too much. It would be little, small things like that.

"I wouldn't say it would be formation changes. We wouldn't automatically just go to 4-3-3 when we haven't done it for a long time."

Trapattoni has often spoken of how Keane could play the "Totti" role behind the main striker, which Francesco Totti excelled in during Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph.

It is a role Keane has played in club football but less so in the international game, where the responsibility for scoring goals largely rests with the captain.

"It's something I have done," he said. "I have kind of played two different roles, if you like, at club level and international level.

"At international level, the pressure is on me to score the goals, but at club level, I kind of play as that number ten anyway.

"Maybe if the manager wants me to do that role, which I am sure in certain games he will probably want that, it's something I have done before, so it wouldn't be a problem."

The ten-year wait to return to a major tournament is almost over as the Croatia game in Poznan is now just days three days away.

Keane and the rest of the squad, who were given an unexpected day off yesterday, are refreshed and eager for the games to begin.

He said: "We are desperate to get started now. It's been a long few weeks. It's been very good. The atmosphere around the place has been brilliant.

"Everybody is just looking forward to Sunday now.

"Of course in any competition, you want to start off straight away as well as you can and try to get points on the board because we know that in the group, anybody can beat anybody.

"We knew from Monday onwards that we are getting to the end of things now. It was good training today with the lads and we will look forward to the next couple of days and preparing for Sunday's game."

The players will spend the next few days learning more about how Croatia will play, although Keane says they picked up a lot from the 0-0 draw in the friendly game in August.

Fielding questions from reporters after training at their base in Gdynia, Keane was informed that the Financial Times has rated Ireland as the least valuable squad in the tournament.

He laughed off the comment but declared that Ireland were not here for the craic and aim to win as many games as they can, possibly emulating surprise Euro 2004 winners Greece.

"Listen, we are not coming to this competition to make the numbers up," he said defiantly.

"We are here to do as well as we can for the country and hopefully go as far as we can.

"We go into every game in every competition believing that we can win it."

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