Keane: I'm not a cheerleader, I'm here to play

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The former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool forward has found his time on the pitch to be limited but insists that he is determined to play his part at Euro 2016

Robbie Keane is determined to play his part in the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign and insists that he is not a part of the squad "as a cheerleader."

The LA Galaxy striker, who turns 36 in July, featured from the bench in Ireland's 1-1 draw against Sweden and their 3-0 defeat to Belgium and is adamant that he will "give [his] best" if selected against Italy.

"Is it tough to take as a player when you’re not first choice? Of course, because you want to play all the time," Keane said in an interview with RTE.

"I’m not here to make the numbers up. I’m not here as a cheerleader. I’m here to play my part in the games. When given the opportunity I’ll take it.

"Unfortunately I haven’t had too many opportunities. When you’re playing ten minutes, 12 minutes here and there, you try and do your best but when your 3-0 down it’s difficult.

"We’ve got another game on Wednesday and if I’m called upon I’ll give my best and hopefully get a result for the team.

"When you’ve done your coaching badges you have a different outlook on things but as I said before I’m not a coach yet. I’m not a manager. I’m a player and I’m here to play."

Having picked up just one point from their first two games in Group E, Martin O'Neill's team need a win in order to have any hope of progressing to the last 16.

And, despite believing Italy to be weaker than they once were, Keane is anticipating a "tough" match.

"Are they a good team? They’re very well organised. Are they as known as they have been over the last few years? You’d say no," said the former Inter Milan striker.

"But they defend very, very well, which they’ve always done. They can score goals. It’ll be a tough game. But we know what we have to do.

"We have to go and win the game. If we don’t we’re going home."

Ireland take on Italy at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. The game kicks off at 20:00.

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