thumbnail Hello,

The skipper jetted in from the United States this week ahead of the friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday and has his say on a number of issues

Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane says he won’t let the responsibilities of captaining his country in a major finals get in the way of his primary job – scoring goals.

The LA Galaxy striker has 53 goals for the Republic and three of his tally came when Keane was a carefree 21-year-old in the 2002 World Cup in Japan.

While the skipper admits that, as a senior member of the panel, he now has more responsibility, he says it won’t affect his performances.

“My job is to do that [score goals]. As a captain, you can’t carry the whole team. First and foremost you have to make sure that as a player you are doing the best you can to help the team so I will certainly be doing that,” Keane told reporters in Dublin on Friday.

The former Tottenham forward, 31, is one of only four squad members to have participated in a major tournament before, in the World Cup 2002. He acknowledges that the captaincy role means he, along with Shay Given, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne, will be looked up to by the younger members of the travelling panel.

He said: “There is always responsibility on you as captain, especially when you are away for so long. There are going to be times when a few of the lads are going to be down, a few little niggles in training with players.

“That’s normal stuff when you’re away, when you’re stuck in a hotel for a long, long time but it’s important for me as captain, as soon as there is any negativity around the camp, it’s important that us as senior players nip it in the bud straight away.”

The Dubliner was also confident that Sunderland’s James McClean, 23, will learn a lot from his first start in Giovanni Trapattoni’s side against tomorrow. “As a player you always want to get a couple of games under your belt. I think tomorrow’s game will do him the world of good. He’s a quiet enough lad [but] I can see already that he’s starting to come out of his shell a bit.”

Keane also said he was happy that his hamstring injury had cleared up and laid the blame at playing on an astroturf pitch in the US.

“It tightened up so, basically, I couldn’t really kick a ball or jog, I couldn’t sprint or even [go at] three quarter pace. We went for the scan and lucky enough the scan showed that it wasn’t a tear so obviously I was quite happy with that,” added Keane.

The ex-Inter forward will win his 116th cap in Saturday’s game against Bosnia-Herzegovina.