England v Republic of Ireland: Keane says wait too long

Robbie Keane training at Wembley on Tuesday

England v Republic of Ireland

Wednesday, 29 May
2000 BST
Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane believes the friendly against England on Wednesday should have taken place "a good few years ago".

A 14-year-old Keane was in the crowd in February 1995 when rioting England fans forced the at Lansdowne Road.

"I was a kid in the stand and I didn't think at that stage we would have a chance to play England," he said.

"It's a bit long coming, to try to put to bed what happened a long time ago."

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Heading into the Wembley match, Keane has told his Republic team-mates they will only be able to compete on the big stage if they learn how to deal with the best teams in the world.

The 32-year-old LA Galaxy striker will lead his country into the Wembley clash with the memory of last summer's poor showing at the Euro 2012 finals still fresh in his mind.

However, Keane is confident that further exposure to some of the stronger sides in world football can only be of benefit.

He added: "They are very strong. They have so many players they can pick from - we don't have that luxury, to be honest with you.

"They have probably one of their best players out, Steven Gerrard, who is injured, but they have so many players they can just pick from any team in England.

"They are a very, very strong team, we are well aware of that. They have quality players throughout the squad, players on the bench and players who haven't been called up.

"They are a good side, but it's a good test for us. It's important for us to pit our wits against top-10 teams in the world to see where we are.

"We know we certainly struggled in the Euros against the top teams, so it's important for us over the next few years or so to be playing against these stronger teams."

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