Roy Keane has reiterated his criticism of Eden Hazard’s attitude ahead of Republic of Ireland’s meeting with Belgium at Euro 2016, but he concedes the Chelsea winger is still an “outstanding player”.
The Republic assistant coach chastised Hazard while working as a television pundit earlier in the year, after the Belgian had placed question marks over his club future ahead of a pivotal Champions League fixture.
Hazard had suggested he would be open to a move to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the meeting between the two sides back in February.
At the time, Keane was scathing, suggesting back in his playing days he would have kicked any team-mate in training if they had talked so publicly about leaving.
However, in his role as second-in-command to Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, Keane admitted on Thursday that he wishes he had Hazard in his team for Saturday’s crucial Group E game in Bordeaux.
“That [his previous criticism] is nothing personal,” Keane said. “I would do that to anybody if I was playing with them who was talking about possibly wanting to leave all the time.
“It’s nothing against the lad – I think he’s a talented boy. I’d like him to be in our group – he’s a really, really top player.
“He’s had a difficult season, I suppose, but that’s because maybe he set his standards so high the previous season.
“Don’t get me the wrong way, I think he’s an outstanding player, but if you’d asked me if I was playing with anybody, whether I was at Forest, Rockmount, Cobh Ramblers, and they were constantly talking – if it was true – that they wanted to leave and they had a poor attitude to training, then I would kick them in training, yes.
“But I have kind of done that with most players, I suppose, even lads who didn’t want to leave.”
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