Sport

Keogh: Declaring for Ireland a 'no-brainer'

By Damian Spellman

RICHARD Keogh is ready to answer his country's call on Friday night with no regrets

over his decision to declare for the Republic of Ireland.

The Republic will meet Scotland in Glasgow at the end of a week which has seen a debate over players opting to represent countries other than that of their birth grow increasingly tetchy, with Aiden McGeady and James

McCarthy both preparing to return to their native country in the green of Ireland. But 28-year-old Derby defender Keogh, who was born in the Essex town of Harlow, had no decision to make when his time came.

He said: "For me, it was a nobrainer. My dad was born in Carlow and moved over to England when he was a bit older, but my nan and grandad lived there all their lives. "I played for the U19s and to me,

the natural progression was to play for the U21s and hopefully the seniors. That was my aim, so for me it was a very proud moment when I got the call to play for Ireland - and it was the best decision I ever made."

Keogh could well line up against the Scots at Celtic Park with Stoke's Marc Wilson having been ruled out through injury, and the atmosphere is certain to be intense with McGeady and McCarthy seemingly certain to be given a

hostile reception. However, fullback Stephen Ward is convinced neither man will be affected if that proves to be the case.

Ward said: "I don't think they have really taken much notice of it. There are a lot of things said coming up to the games in the press, heat-of-the-moment stuff. "They are just training - obviously James is looking to get himself right and Aiden has just trained away. We tend to just concentrate on ourselves and get ready for the

game in our own way. "I'm sure they have been booed before. Aiden has played in Old Firm games, James has played in derby games, so it will be nothing new to any player. But it will be a special occasion, a special atmosphere and I am sure they will savour it as much as anyone else. It's one to look forward to. The two sets of fans are up there with some of the best in the world, so I am sure it will be a really special night."

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