Ireland captain Keane delighted with fan support

Ireland captain Keane delighted with fan support

Published Jun. 12, 2012 2:18 p.m. ET

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.''