Cup joy motivates Keane

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Robbie Keane is hoping for a tough run-out as he leads out the Republic of Ireland against neighbours Northern Ireland in Dublin.

The Carling Nations Cup encounter at the Aviva Stadium is viewed as little more than a friendly and neither side will be anything near full strength.

Yet with a Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia looming on June 4 and Keane lacking match sharpness after a frustrating season, the Tottenham forward is anxious to be in the thick of the action. The 30-year-old said: "It is not just leading the team, it is playing for my country. I am sure it will be fairly competitive and both sides will want to win the game."

He added: "I have always been enthusiastic about that since the day I put the green jersey on for my first game. That hasn't changed.

"Whether I have the armband or not, that's irrelevant.


"No matter what numbers we have, every friendly or international is important.

"Whether it's against Northern Ireland or anyone else, you want to win."

Keane has endured a frustrating season having fallen out of favour at Spurs and then had a loan spell at West Ham blighted by injury and which ended in relegation.

With the Hammers now not interested in a permanent deal, Keane accepts he is likely to start next season at his ninth professional club.

He said: "It is one of those things. I have had it most of my career. It doesn't really bother me and it is something I cannot really worry about."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Robbie Keane

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