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Republic of Ireland v Switzerland: Keane keen for focus ahead of Euro 2016

Roy Keane has called on the Republic of Ireland to forget their dramatic Euro 2016 play-off win over Bosnia-Herzegovina and refocus ahead of Friday’s friendly against Switzerland.

Ireland secured their place at the upcoming tournament in France by virtue of a 3-1 aggregate victory over Mehmed Bazdarevic’s men last November.

Martin O’Neill’s side were handed a tough draw for the finals, with Sweden, Belgium and Italy awaiting in Group E, and begin their preparations against Switzerland in Dublin this week, before welcoming Slovakia to the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.

And O’Neill’s assistant Keane says Ireland must put the euphoria of reaching the finals behind them.

“That’s over with now, all that stops,” the former Ireland and Manchester United captain said.

“It’s time to refocus now on what we can bring to the tournament and have an Irish team we can be proud of. Go over there and be remembered. Don’t go over there with the attitude that we’re just happy to be here. We can’t. Thank God we don’t have a manager who thinks that way. Same with the staff and the players.

“We are going over there to do the best we can and not come back after a week or two saying ‘ah it was a great experience’. No, no, we want to stay there as long as we can.

“I don’t know about minimum targets and ‘what would I be happy with?’ The first target is to get out of the group. Is that realistic? Yes. 

“It is going to be very difficult [but] we have faith in ourselves, we have a brilliant manager, really good characters, good players in the group, experience. Yes, why not?”

Midfielders Jeff Hendrick (shoulder), Harry Arter (Achilles) and forward Jonathan Walters (knock) will miss Friday’s match, but Keane is eager for Ireland’s players to stake their claim for a place in O’Neill’s squad for the European Championship with strong showings against Switzerland and Slovakia.

“There’s some fresh faces in the squad, the last time we were together was four months ago so it’s been a while. We’re getting closer to the competition. It’s nice to have the two games in four days, it gives the lads an opportunity,” he added.

For Switzerland, meanwhile, the trip to Dublin offers coach Vladimir Petkovic the chance to run the rule over his squad ahead of their Euro 2016 campaign, which will see them come up against Albania, Romania and hosts France.

Petkovic returned to his native Bosnia following the death of his mother on Saturday, but is expected to be in charge at the Aviva.

Wed 23 Mar, 2016
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