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 By Kevin Palmer

Older, wiser Roy Keane set for meaningful games with Ireland

Roy Keane, left, looks on with Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert during a preseason friendly. In addition to assisting Lambert at Villa, Keane is also an assistant for the Ireland national team.

Roy Keane claims he is 'older and wiser' for his experience of working as an assistant manager with the both the Republic of Ireland national team and Premier League side Aston Villa.

Former Manchester United captain Keane surprised many observers by accepting a role as Martin O'Neill's high-profile sidekick in a new-look Irish set-up last year, before he added to his workload by taking up a similar role with Aston Villa this summer.

While Keane is an ex-manager in his own right after spells with Sunderland and Ipswich, he has suggested he has been enriched by his experiences of recent months.

"The last 10 months have been great," Keane told reporters in Dublin. "I'm older and wiser and I didn't hesitate to get involved.

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"I just feel lucky that, as a coach, I will benefit working at the Premier League level, working with good players and a good manager at Villa. Whatever I learn with Villa, I'll bring to Ireland and vice versa.

"I'm getting the best of both worlds from a selfish point of view. I'm working in the Premier League, I'm working with the senior team in Ireland and still having an input in the under-21s and the different [coaching] courses that might be going on. I think I'm very lucky."

Keane is relishing the chance to get involved in his first competitive match as an Ireland coach on Sunday, as his nation start their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a trip to Georgia.

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"It's been a tough few years for Ireland, especially away from home," added Keane. "It's going to be a tough game on Sunday, but I cannot wait.

"You can sense the shift in the camp, we know the serious stuff is starting. We don't have any fear. There has been some negativity in the media, but they will be the first ones to have a jolly and celebrate if we do it. You don't judge anything on friendlies, it's just like preseasons at club level.

"This is what it boils down to now, starting against Georgia on Sunday. There has been a lot of friendly matches, there is a lot of small talk, ticking a few boxes in terms of the job, a bit here and there, but ultimately we'll be judged on what happens in the qualifying matches. I'm glad the foreplay is over.

"It's been fine working with Martin so far, I've enjoyed it, but we know there has been no cutting edge to the games. There has been no real pressure. We try to win every game of football, but we know it's crunch time. That's why we're here."


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