John O’Shea at training earlier today
By Grainne McGuinness and Shaun Cronin
John O’Shea defended Roy Keane at a press conference this afternoon, but did not agree with him on the issue of problems lining out for the national team.
After yesterday’s spat between Keane and some print journalists O’She was asked if the frequent issues and incidents involving Ireland’s assistant manager affected the squad.
“Look, it doesn’t bother us one bit lads, honestly,” was his response.
A reporter then suggested the attention on Keane might actually deflect attention and so help the team, but the Sunderland defender was anxious to make clear that it didn’t affect the team either way.
“We don’t see it either way,” he insisted. “It’s more so yourselves that enjoy those things, we have our job to do on the pitch.”
“We train great, everything is prepared for us great, and then it’s up to us to do a job on the pitch.”
Roy Keane at training earlier today
Keane suggested yesterday that clubs, notably Everton, worked to keep players away from international duty in order to have them fresh for club games, but O’Shea said this had not been his experience.
“I’ve never had any issues thankfully. It’s always the case, as the manager spoke about, if you do have a little niggling injury or something ongoing sometimes people don’t know everything of the history.
“It can be tricky sometimes, but I’ve never had any problems.”
The experienced defender said the team had been very disheartened to lose last Friday’s game against Scotland in the manner that they did, conceding a goal after a poorly-defended corner.
“Obviously it’s disappointing when you lose a game, it looked like it was going to be heading for nil-nil,” he said.
“The most disappointing thing was the manager and the staff had explained how important set-pieces were going to be, and will be in games coming up as well, and so the most disappointing thing on the night was to concede the goal we did.”
“Scotland said they worked on it, but they obviously had a little bit of luck in the transition of the set-play and unfortunately we didn’t react quick enough to stop it.”
O’Shea said set-pieces were crucial in the club game now too, and getting them right would be a priority for Ireland ahead of their next Euro 2016 qualifying game in March.
“It’s something we need to improve on, and it’s something we need to improve on attacking-wise as well, our set-pieces because they are so crucial,” he said.
“You see it not only at international level, but week-in-week-out in the Premier League, they are deciding the big games.
“It’s frustrating more so than anything, but hopefully we have 2015 to put that right.”