Robbie Keane can't wait to get started
Robbie Keane cannot wait to get started as the Republic of Ireland finalise their preparations for their Euro 2012 kick-off on Sunday evening.
Three weeks after the bulk of the squad initially met up in Malahide, they will open their campaign against Croatia in Poznan hoping all the hard work they have done in the meantime will have them in tip-top condition when it matters most.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni gave his players a day off on Wednesday, but they resumed training on Thursday with the excitement level rising all the time.
Keane said: "We are desperate to get started now. It's been a long few weeks. It's been very good, the atmosphere around the place has been brilliant.
"Everybody is just looking forward to Sunday now."
It has been Trapattoni's practice during his four-year reign to date to name his team at the official press conference 24 hours before a game, and there will be intense interest in the first name he announces at the Municipal Stadium in Poznan on Saturday evening.
Goalkeeper Shay Given's individual preparations have been repeatedly interrupted by knee and calf injuries and blistered feet, and he did not train with his team-mates once again on Thursday.
Despite assurances from both goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly and assistant manager Marco Tardelli that the 36-year-old will be fit to play against the Croatians, his readiness or otherwise remains a constant topic for debate.
However, Keane is not unduly concerned.
He said: "He did bits and bobs, didn't he? He obviously didn't take part in the whole session, which would probably be on medical advice from the staff and what have you, but he seems to be okay.
"As long as he is on the training pitch and he's fit for Sunday's game, that's the most important thing."
The Republic have gradually turned their attention towards the specifics of the Croatia game with Trapattoni and his coaching staff having identified strengths and weaknesses, and the information they have gleaned will be drummed into the players over the next few days.
Keane said: "That's the manager's job to do that. As a team, we always sit down and watch videos and watch different clips on how they play, so that will certainly happen this week.
"But we played against them not long ago, so we obviously know all the players they have.
"But that's where the manager - him and the backroom staff - sit down every day and go through certain situations, and then the players this week will sit down and watch certain clips of them."
The tournament gets under way this evening when co-hosts Poland face 2004 winners Greece in Warsaw, and while Trapattoni's regime has been relatively strict to date, the players will have a chance to watch the other games.
Keane said: "We are not in prison. We have certainly got TVs in the room - it's not that bad!
"We will be watching as many games as we can, depending on our training schedule."