Roy Keane calls on players to 'step up to the plate' against Italy

Ireland need a win to keep their hopes alive in the Euros

Roy Keane, Ireland, training,

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ireland's defeat against Belgium means the game against Italy is now a must-win clash if Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane hope to guide their team through to the next round of the competition. 

Ireland are still sweating over the fitness of Jonathan Walters for the decisive game, who was unable to take to the field for the defeat against Belgium. Speaking to the media on Monday, Roy Keane said that "it is very much play to by ear, hopefully he can do something. We're training here tomorrow morning and hopefully he can get involved somewhere [...] but it's still very much touch and go."

"We know the type of lad Jon is and if there's any chance he thinks he can get through it, he'll have a go. Even if we thought we could get Jon on the pitch for an hour, it would be fantastic. But of course you have to look after the player's welfare. Ultimately you think if he crosses that line, he's fit, but if he doesn't feel right then it's highly unlikely he would be involved."

Turning his attention to the defeat, Keane emphasised that the most important thing now was how Ireland's players react. 

"We had a few plaudits after the fist game but we said after that game we have to move on quickly and you've got to try and be in the same mindset after a defeat. 

"Did we get it right, did we get it wrong? We felt before the game if we weren't at out best, we'd get beaten and we weren't at our best."

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

"We have to play a lot better, in every aspect of the game, in possession out of possession. Individuals have to look at their own game and step up to the plate, and I believe they will."

With much of the concentration on James McCarthy's performance in the game, Keane reinforced that the issue was not with what had happened, but how to change things for the next game.

"Footballers make mistakes, we trained this morning and the players made loads of mistakes. It's how you react to it. James and other players  will make more mistakes, it's how you deal with the setbacks, that's what sets you apart from the others."

Highlighting that possession would be a key part of the game, Keane added that "we gave the ball away far too cheaply [...] you've got to take care of the ball, you really have to look after it. No problem when you're trying stuff, 20 or 30 yards from goal, but when you're sloppy in and around the middle of the park, it just puts you under massive pressure."

Although Conte is set to ring the changes when the two sides meet, Ireland will have to hope that the lessons have been learned for the players involved on Saturday, and that the squad will be at full fitness to allow them to make some switches of their own.