/ Soccer

Trapattoni ready to test new system

Updated: Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012 21:34

Giovanni Trapattoni will hand Robbie Keane a new role for Ireland
Giovanni Trapattoni will hand Robbie Keane a new role for Ireland

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Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has asked skipper Robbie Keane to be his Francesco Totti as he begins his preparations for the Euro 2012 finals.

Keane will play a "number 10" role behind West Brom striker Shane Long in the absence of hamstring victim Kevin Doyle in tomorrow night's friendly against the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium.

Trapattoni, who has spent the last month studying DVDs of Ireland's Group C opponents Croatia, Spain and Italy, believes the system, which is a modification to the tried and tested 4-4-2 which booked their place in Poland and Ukraine, could come in useful in the tournament, and is keen to see how it works.

The Italian said: "Two years ago, maybe three years ago I said about Robbie, Robbie can play like Totti. Remember? I said he can play in this position and he can play well.

"At this moment, I want to give Robbie the opportunity to play between the midfield and a striker, because he can read the game and feel how the game will be.

"Long is a player who can allow Robbie to play deep. For the last month, I have watched Spain and Croatia and other teams, and I want to try this.

"Tomorrow is a test of this situation. I think Robbie can do both jobs well."

For Keane himself, the task of playing in a slightly withdrawn role is not one which will faze him.

Indeed, the 31-year-old insists he has played most of his club football in the Barclays Premier League, especially during his recent loan spell at Aston Villa, in exactly that position.

Keane said: "At club level over the years, I have always played in that role. My role is a little bit different for Ireland.

"I play a bit higher up and get on to flick-ons, which we have been very successful with over the years, so in that respect, I am used to playing that position.

"That is my position, to be honest with you. I am sort of a number 10, if you like and play in between the striker and the midfield.

"That's certainly been more the case in the last couple of months with Aston Villa, but since I have been playing, that's kind of the position I have played, certainly in England.

"But when I'm with the Irish team, it's a little bit different."

Keane's seven-game spell at Villa Park brought him three goals, two of them spectacular long-range strikes in a 3-2 derby victory over former club Wolves.

That is something he believes he can repeat from a deeper lying role, and while Trapattoni compared him to Italy international Totti, the striker preferred to look to Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

He said: "If you look at someone like Frank Lampard, for example, who plays at the head of a diamond, so is almost like a second striker, if you like.

"You see the goals he scores from running deep over the years, and he has continued to do that. It's a similar situation to that."

Keane will return to parent club the Los Angeles Galaxy after tomorrow night's game, and will do so in form and brimming with confidence ahead of the new Major League Soccer season.

However, amid speculation that he could return soon and for good with Villa boss Alex McLeish having expressed more than a passing interest in securing his services once again, he moved to end the rumours.

Keane said: "At the end of the day, I am a Galaxy player. Both parties knew what the situation was before I went there.

"I am an LA Galaxy player. I know there was a lot of talk about me being homesick or whatever it was - I don't really know where that has come from.

"At the moment, I am a Galaxy player and I am really looking forward getting back and getting back playing with the lads again."

Nevertheless, Keane's loan spell in the midlands has proved hugely successful, and he believes it has been far more beneficial than a pre-season programme in the United States would have been.

He said: "It's like anything - you want to play and play every week if you can and keep yourself fit.

"Every player wants to play every Saturday or whenever it is. I have said loads of time before, I am not one of these players that likes to sit on the bench and be happy to pick up my money.

"I want to earn my money. I love waking up on a Saturday morning and getting myself ready for the game, and that's been good, certainly in the last six months."

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