Wayne Rooney’s biggest battle at Euro 2012 will be to stop himself becoming bored while he serves a two-match suspension, according to former Republic of Ireland midfielder Roy Keane.
The Manchester United forward, who is currently recovering from a minor toe problem, must watch from the sidelines as Roy Hodgson’s men take on France and then Sweden after being punished for a red card when he kicked Miodrag Dzudovic during a 2-2 draw with Montenegro in October.
While the 26-year-old, who netted 27 Barclays Premier League goals this season, will return for what could be a crunch showdown with hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on June 19, Keane believes keeping the player focused will be the biggest battle.
“English and Irish players are the same, I don’t think we are good at hanging around hotels and training camps in the middle of nowhere,” said former Manchester United captain Keane, who will be at Euro 2012 as part of ITV Sport’s media panel.
“I have experienced that myself as a player, at club level as well, when you go away pre-season for a couple of weeks.
“I think the big problem Wayne will have is the boredom, mentally trying to build up for a game, but he will be fresh and will give England something a bit different – unless England win their first two matches I imagine he will be straight into the team.”
Keane, 40, was sent home from the 2002 World Cup after a bust-up with then Ireland manager Mick McCarthy over the training facilities in Saipan, and appreciates just what a goldfish bowl foreign base camps can be.
“As you get older you might be married and have kids, you might appreciate the peace and quiet, but Wayne is still young, he’s pretty active, mentally,” said Keane.
“Roy Hodgson will have to manage that, get the balance right what he does on the training pitch, he has to keep sharp, but without overdoing it or getting irritated.
“There are plusses and minuses, sometimes players come back fresh, but it is not as if Wayne can feel his way into the tournament, it’s ’you have to produce today’. As good as a player he is, that is difficult.”
Given the off-field issues which have overshadowed what was a largely positive qualification campaign for England, expectations of success this summer are somewhat subdued.
Keane said: “You would expect them to get out of the group, I just don’t expect them to win it, despite who the manager might be and I would have been saying that if [Fabio] Capello was still there.
“England have good players, but I expect them to come up short again like they have in the past.
“I am not dismissing England, they could be the surprise package, but I am not expecting too much from them.”