Like the rest of us, Roy Keane is worried about goals. More precisely, where Ireland are going to find them against Austria and over the longer haul.
It’s been a problem which has evolved quickly since Robbie Keane retired, even if his leaving was protracted and his scoring impact seriously diluted in his final few years.
But while he hung on, and Ireland needed him to, those behind him have been putting on miles and both Jon Walters and Shane Long are now thinking hard thoughts about the future and how many seasons at the top they might have left.
Keane knows that there is no obvious rising star and in every generation, up to now, there has always been at least one. He is concerned that the goal supply is drying up. He said: “Of course, you’re disappointed but whatever about us scoring three or four goals a game, because going back over the last 20 or 30 years Ireland have never done that, you’re just looking for a little bit more creativity and to create a few more chances because otherwise you’re going to make it very hard for yourself.
“If you keep averaging a goal a game, whatever it might be, it’s tough going against good teams.”
Keane, like Martin O’Neill, has time for Daryl Murphy and points to the impact he has had when he has played.
He said: “You look at our results when Murf has played, I tell you, they have been pretty decent if you analyse it. If he gets involved, when you look at the Austria game, if he plays up front he won’t let us down.”
“Nine times out of ten, you ask me about strikers the first stat you look at is their goals. But I look at his work-rate and I worked with him before at club level and I think he has done well for Ireland. It reflects in the results when he has played.”
Murphy’s return to the Premier League with Newcastle was one bright spot in a very ordinary season for Ireland’s…