Ireland captain Keane delighted with fan support

Ireland captain Robbie Keane has been around, and he’s seen a

lot of supporters.

None of them come close to what he’s seeing at the European

Championship in Poland.

”We keep saying it, don’t we? It’s probably the best I’ve ever

seen since I’ve been a player,” Keane said Tuesday of Ireland’s

hordes of traveling fans that have made the trip to eastern

Europe.

The much-traveled Los Angeles Galaxy striker has played for 10

clubs across four countries and made 118 appearances for Ireland,

taking in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

That was the last time Ireland qualified for an international

tournament and its fans are taking advantage of having less

distance to travel 10 years on, making their trademark colorful

impression at Euro 2012.

Despite an opening 3-1 loss to Croatia on Sunday, thousands of

supporters are expected to decamp from Poznan and head north to

Gdansk for the team’s second game, against Spain.

”Because it’s a bit closer to home now, the support is

absolutely magnificent,” Keane said. ”Before the game (on Sunday)

was probably one of the best atmospheres I’ve witnessed for a long,

long time.”

Ireland’s injury problems eased Tuesday at the squad’s training

base in Gdynia on Tuesday. Defender Richard Dunne was fit to take

part after missing Monday’s session with blisters and midfielder

Darron Gibson also trained after having a scan on a thigh

injury.

Coach Giovanni Trapattoni gave hints about possible changes for

the Spain match, most notably pairing Keane with Jonathan Walters

in a practice game during the session, suggesting Kevin Doyle may

drop to the bench.

But assistant coach Marco Tardelli said not too much should be

read into that change.

”We could have another solution (for Spain),” he said. ”Or

maybe we can play the same team. We have a few days to

decide.”

A draw against Spain would keep Ireland’s qualification hopes

alive going into the final match against Italy.

”We go into every game hoping to get three points so that would

be the main aim,” Keane said. ”It’s very difficult as a player to

go into a game thinking you just want to get a point. It wouldn’t

be the end of the world if we get a point though.”