Roy Keane has challenged the Republic of Ireland to come out “swinging” as they attempt to scrap their way into the last 16 at the Euro 2016 finals.
Ireland have to beat Italy in their final Group E match in Lille on Wednesday night if they are to stand any chance of making it to the knockout stage of the competition and even then, four points might not be enough.
Martin O’Neill’s men were left on the brink of an early exit by Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by Belgium and, while their task will be no easier at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, assistant manager Keane is refusing to throw in the towel.
He said: “We’ve got to be careful here because what you do, in sport or in life, you can over-analyse it. We believed the team going out there at the start (against Belgium) would get the right result for the country.
“It didn’t pan out that way, but you move on quickly. We’ve watched it back - and that wasn’t easy, let me tell you - but move on to the next game.
“Some days when you’ve played well and you’ve had good days, you’ve got to move on quickly and I’ve always been not bad at that really, move on quickly to the next game. It’s the same for the players.
“We’ll be positive. You can look back all you want, but you’re talking to the wrong man. We look forward and get ready for the next challenge - that’s what sport is about.
“It’s like a boxer. I’ve seen great boxers get knocked out, but you get back up and you start swinging and hope for the best.”
Italy boss Antonio Conte is expected to make wholesale changes with top spot in the group already secured, and the Ireland camp does not really know what to expect in terms of his selection.
However, Keane is sure whatever team the Italians field, Ireland will have their work cut out to get the result they need.
He said: “I don’t want to be talking them up too much, but they’ve got a bit of everything and that is why they are a good team. There are no real weaknesses, so we’ll have to be at our very, very best.
“But we have beaten Italy before, so it can be done.”