“We have a game against Italy,” he began earnestly. “They’re a very good team and they’re going to give us a very good test so training was very good, it had a good intensity…”
And that’s about as far as he got before simply throwing in the towel and surrendering to the fact that Roy-a-go-go was the only story in town.
“Look, it’s one of them things,” he almost sighed. “It seems to have snowballed since we met up. Is it done and dusted? Close apparently.
“If there was ever a job that was going to entice him back, that was definitely going to be up there. If it does happen, I’m sure he’ll relish the challenge and do very well.”
The Irish players, however, are not relishing his departure.
“As Martin the manager said, you’d be disappointed because obviously he’s very good around the place,” said the Sunderland defender.
“We’ve not got into the competitive matches so at least Martin will have time, if it does happen, to address things. But obviously I’d be disappointed because I know the type of man he (Keane) is and what he will bring and has done already, especially to the younger players.
“It’s only been three games but you can see it already. He was one of the best players in midfield around the world for a number of years and to have that in the dressing room, to help the lads, is very good.
“And all the little bits of experience he has picked up along the way, to pass that on — at least he’ll have passed that on.”
O’Shea confessed his gut instinct was that Keane would take the Celtic job. “I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t get across the line” — adding that he also feels the matter will be sorted out promptly.
“I’m sure it will,” he said. “Everyone involved is too experienced to let it drag on. Everyone will want it done and dusted soon. If he takes the job, he’s got a game fairly soon.
“Everyone is too experienced, they’ll get it done professionally very quickly.”
Martin O’Neill, while maintaining in public that he still hopes Keane will still stay by his side, was on the same page as O’Shea in terms of a time-frame.
Having quipped that he’d imposed a deadline for a decision from Keane of “18 months”, the manager then made clear that he expects things to be settled before the squad fly out to America on Wednesday.
“I imagine that in the next few days the situation will resolve itself,” he said. “Whether it goes into Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday — we are not actually leaving until Wednesday — I would imagine that the situation would be sorted by then. Celtic are actively seeking a manager and they have a certain number of days to try and do something because they will want a man in place for when they come back for pre-season.
“So I can imagine that before we travel to America that something will have happened.”
In Glasgow, however, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell was not inclined to give similar hostages to fortune although, perhaps significantly, he did speak in glowing terms about Keane.
“Clearly we want to do it as soon as we possibly can but these things you can’t put a time on,” he said.
“We have got a number of excellent candidates, Roy is one of them and we’ll see what happens in the next week or two. He’s played here, he’s a Celtic supporter, he’s a first class guy. We have between five and 10 candidates. You don’t want to get it wrong by going too fast, you need to take your time and make sure you get the right guy.”
While the FAI continue to maintain an official silence on the Keane story, O’Neill indicated he has spoken about the situation with chief executive John Delaney.
“We are all in this together, really,” he said. “John was the one who employed me and, very naturally, the process was there.”
Meanwhile, O’Shea revealed that Keane is continuing to play a straight bat inside the Irish camp.
“He’s a poker player,” he smiled, before quipping that the Celtic-manager-in-waiting had already offered O’Shea a 10-year deal.
“The lad are obviously talking about it, don’t get me wrong,” he went on. “The lads are trying to pick up things. Is he on the phone? Is he not on the phone? It’s one of them things. With the information around with Twitter or whatever, Sky Sports News on in the hotel 24/7, speculation is not only in the papers, it’s in the hotel too.”
Yet, O’Shea insists the Keane saga hasn’t been a distraction on the training pitch.
“No, these games are very important but they’re not qualification games, they’re preparation,” he said. “It is fortunate because Martin will have time to adjust his backroom staff accordingly. The lads are here this week, Steve Walford and Steve Guppy. I don’t know whether Martin was pre-empting it (laughs), he’s very good at reading situations. Look at the man we have in charge, he’ll make sure (we’re prepared). That’s where we’re very fortunate.”