KILMARNOCK (Scotland): New Ireland manager Brian Kerr says he will not pressurise Manchester United's captain Roy Keane into making a decision about his international future following his controversial World Cup exit last year.
Kerr, preparing for tomorrow's friendly with Scotland at Hampden Park in his first game in charge, held a meeting with Keane on Thursday which he described as “important”.
Keane has not said if he will return to play for his country after being kicked out of the squad on the eve of last year's World Cup Finals in South Korea and Japan and Kerr is prepared to wait for the midfielder's decision.
“I had a meeting as you and everybody else in the world seems to know about and until we've come to the end of that process, I won't talk about it,” Kerr told reporters at the squad's base in Kilmarnock on Sunday.
“I'd say that I'd done one part of it which was important to have a meeting and we've had a meeting.
“I don't want to be too evasive but you understand it's a delicate situation and it doesn't do any good for me to talk about it publicly. I won't say anything more until we reach a conclusion.”
Keane was sacked from the Irish camp before the World Cup Finals after a verbal attack on former coach Mick McCarthy at a team meeting.
The United captain said at the time he would never play for his country again while former international team mate McCarthy – who quit in November after two Euro 2004 qualifying defeats – was at the helm.
Kerr will be without Spurs striker Robbie Keane, Blackburn Rovers winger Damien Duff, Leeds midfielder Garry Kelly and Wolves winger Mark Kennedy due to injury.
With the quartet of injuries, Kerr has added Hearts defender Alan Maybury – who has one cap against the Czech Republic in 1998 – to his squad.
Former Ireland Under-21 manager Kerr is expecting a tough test against Scotland but believes the Ireland fans will turn out in numbers for his first match.
“My first ambition is to win the game so I won't be using too many players and having unlimited substitutions,” added Kerr.
“I haven't had a lot of time to get an impression of Scotland, but I know they've done quite well in the games with Canada and beating Iceland recently. There is a lot of experience around the middle of the field with Paul Lambert, Jackie McNamara, Barry Ferguson and Christian Dailly. It's a good game and an interesting time for both countries.” – Reuters