Former Celtic striker Robbie Keane in race against time to be ready for Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener



Former Celtic striker Robbie Keane admits he faces a race against time to be fit for the Republic of Ireland’s opening Euro 2016 clash against Sweden.

The LA Galaxy marksman, who scored 16 goals in only 17 starts on loan at the Hoops from Tottenham during the second half of the 2009/10 campaign, picked up a calf problem in training on Saturday and missed Tuesday’s 2-1 friendly defeat to Belarus.

Manager Martin O’Neill still decided to name the 143-times capped player in his 23-man squad but Keane concedes their Group E opener against the Swedes on June 13 could come just too soon for him.

(Pic: FAI)
(Pic: FAI)

The 35-year-old, however, is confident he will definitely be ready for the clashes with Belgium and Italy.

Keane, speaking to FAI TV, said: “It’s never nice when you get injured at this stage with the the European Championships but lucky for me it’s not as bad as I first thought.

“I thought it was going to be a lot longer. They’re saying a couple of weeks, which would maybe get me in for the Sweden game but if I miss that one I’ll definitely be ready for the second game.

“It’s bad news but it could have been a lot worse.”

Ireland finished third above Scotland in qualifying Group D before beating Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-offs and the former Inter Milan and Liverpool player insists the togetherness in the squad can take the team far in France.

He said: “We’re very lucky with the lads we have and the spirit we’ve had in the group, which has always been the same.

“When you’re away from your family for a long period of time, sometimes it can get frustrating and it can get boring if players are not playing but the thing about this group is that we have a team spirit that keeps that lads together and I think that will stand us in good stead going forward.

“There’s a togetherness between everybody, the players and the backroom staff. We’re very lucky with that.”