Robbie Keane believes that the emergence of a generation of talented young players means these are exciting times for Irish football.
However, speaking on Sky Sports, he didn’t discuss his own uncertain place in the international set-up. Having worked as a coach with Mick McCarthy, his services were not retained by new Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, leaving Keane and the FAI to try to resolve his extended contract with the Association.
But, on the pitch, the bigger picture for Irish football is an encouraging one, according to Irish record-breaker.
“There are a lot of young players and the U21s have done well,” he said. “Troy Parrott’s name has been thrown about but obviously he has only played a couple of times for Spurs.
“(Aaron) Connolly at Brighton could be a good player. So we are coming to a generation with a lot of good young players coming through, which is exciting for Irish football.”
Keane also paid tribute to Mick McCarthy.
“When I first came into the Ireland squad, I had the pleasure to work with Mick McCarthy and have worked with him again in the Ireland squad recently,” he said. “With Mick, his honesty comes across and that is the kind of person I’d like to be."
Looking to his longer-term future in the game, Keane – who is currently Jonathan Woodgate’s assistant at Middlesbrough - said: “I’ve been working on my coaching badges and would like to move into management. I’ve spoken to many people and they have all told me to take my time. I want to pick the brains of players and managers I’ve worked with over the years as this is a learning curve.”