“None of them are pulling up any trees at club level.”
Roy Keane lamented the lack of top-quality Republic of Ireland players ahead of the friendly against England at Wembley Stadium on Thursday night.
Ahead of the match, Ireland last lost to England back in 1985. Yet, the gulf in quality between the current squads, particularly given the injuries and withdrawals Ireland have suffered this week, was evident.
England had a vastly superior squad on paper and named a strong team for the game.
“It tells you something when your best player is a fullback – Seamus Coleman,” Keane said about Ireland on ITV.
The former Manchester United and Ireland captain struggled to find any cause for optimism for the Boys in Green.
Keane namechecked Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and John Egan as good Irish players, but noted that very few of Stephen Kenny’s squad were ‘pulling up any trees’ at club level.
The Cork-native was Ireland assistant manager between 2013 and 2018, during which time the national team qualified for Euro 2016.
Keane noted on ITV that too many of Ireland’s current crop of players were competing at Championship level in England and that the step-up to international football was difficult.
“They started okay in the first 20 minutes, but you felt every time England went forward they would do something,” Keane at half-time, with Ireland trailing 2-0.
“(Shane) Duffy is having a difficult spell club wise and Harry Maguire looked like he wanted it a little bit more. When the ball comes into the box, you ask who wants it more.
“Then on the second goal, Jeff Hendrick has got to get tighter. At this level, the idea that players can be two or three yards away from someone like (Jadon) Sancho and get away with it is not good enough.”
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) November 12, 2020
Following the game, and England’s 3-0 victory, Keane said that the match resembled a training game.
“I think I could have played tonight,” he said. “England will face tougher training sessions.”
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