Former Republic of Ireland international Ray Houghton believes that Martin O’Neill has made the right decision in naming Robbie Keane in his squad for Euro 2016.
The Irish skipper was included in O’Neill’s 23-man squad to travel to France despite currently being sidelined with a calf injury.
Keane himself admitted that it is unlikely he will be fit for Ireland’s opening game against Sweden on 13 June but he is hoping to be available for the second game against Belgium on 18 June.
The LA Galaxy striker was preferred in place of Ipswich frontman David McGoldrick, and Houghton believes that it’s the right decision to take Keane to what could be his international swansong.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Houghton said: “Obviously they’ve assessed it, there’s no use taking Robbie if he’s not going to be playing any minutes at all, it’s just a waste.”
"If we have one chance in a game late on, I know who I’d want to be on the end of it."
"But the manager feels that he is the captain of the squad. He might not be the captain of the team because he might not be in the starting 11.
"If we have one chance in a game late on, I know who I’d want to be on the end of it, it’d be Robbie Keane because his goal-scoring record has been absolutely phenomenal."
Casting his eye over the rest of the squad, Houghton feels that O’Neill has made the right selections and that only the injured Harry Arter can feel hard done-by.
"There’s no real major shocks, there’s one or two that might be disappointed. Harry Arter if he was fit might have posed a question.
"I don’t think there’s too many players in there that you might have changed. McGoldrick is probably the one that if you were going to take an extra striker would go."
Looking forward to Ireland’s opener with Sweden, Houghton dismissed claims that it’s a must-win game for Ireland.
With Belgium and Italy to follow for Martin O’Neill’s men, many have claimed that Ireland would not be unable to recover from an opening day defeat, something which Houghton disagrees with.
"I don’t think it is a make-or-break game," he insisted. "That was our problem four years ago, far too much emphasis was put on ‘we must win, we must win’, so when we lost everyone was flat.
"The players were flat, the fans were flat, the nation back here was flat because we had Spain up next and then we had Italy after that.
"I think we have to be more realistic, even if we draw the first game it won’t be the end of the world.
"Having spoken to some of the players who have told me about Martin and the type of manager he is, even if we lost the first game, Martin’s the type of lad who will get you up and say ‘right, we can win the next two'.
"The players just have to believe that when they go out there, they’re going to play without fear and enjoy it."