Robbie keen to play down hype
Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane has called for an injection of realism over the country's hopes of reaching major tournaments.
Ireland have qualified for showcase events under Jack Charlton, Mick McCarthy and Giovanni Trapattoni in recent years, but will miss out on next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil after a disappointing campaign which draws to a close against Kazakhstan on Tuesday evening.
Keane has no problem with the level of expectation successive Irish teams have created, but he admits it is sometimes unrealistic.
The 33-year-old said: "People in England talk about the FA trying to change the structure and trying to play a lot more English players, and they are slowly suffering from that.
"We are going to be at the bottom of that, we are going to suffer as well from that, so if that does change, then it's only going to benefit us as well.
"We need more players to be coming through playing at a higher level. At the moment, that's not the case. Obviously, there are a few, there's no question about that.
"The expectation level has always been high in Ireland, that's just the country that we are, that's the way we have always been.
"There's no harm in having expectations, but sometimes you have to look at the reality as well, and the reality is at the moment we are just not right there."
Keane will hope to play his part in a morale-boosting victory - and one which could ensure that the Republic are among the second group of seeds for the Euro 2016 draw - after recovering from the ankle injury which kept him out of Friday night's 3-0 defeat in Germany.
Celtic frontman Anthony Stokes was handed the task of filling his boots in Cologne and although he turned in a promising display, a series of the kind of chances Keane has converted throughout his career went begging.
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