Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane relishing tough run
Roy Keane has urged the Republic of Ireland to treat their tough end-of-season friendlies as Euro 2016 preparation.
Last Updated: 23/05/14 6:46pm
Martin O'Neill's men face Turkey in Dublin on Sunday - live on Sky - before tackling World Cup-bound trio Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal ahead of a fresh campaign that starts against Georgia in September.
Turkey currently sit 39th in FIFA's ranking table, with the Italians
ninth, Costa Rica 34th and the Portuguese third - all three significantly ahead of Ireland in 66th place.
But assistant manager Keane believes stiff opposition is just what is required if they are to escape a tricky-looking Group D that pits them against Germany, Poland, Georgia, Scotland and Gibraltar.
"We want to play the good teams, it will be a good test for our lads," Keane said.
"We have got a tough qualifying campaign coming up, so there's no point in playing too many easy teams.
"It's a great test for us, it's great preparation."
O'Neill will look at the options at his disposal over the next three weeks and Keane admits that the new management team, which has had just three games to date since taking over in November last year, is still learning about the squad.
"I wouldn't have said we have had our best XI out yet, but we are working on it," he added.
"I suppose that's the big downside of international football, it's very hard to get a settled team because lads are pulling out or lads are injured.
"That's one of the challenges we face, but we are looking forward to it."
Watch the Republic of Ireland v Turkey, live from 5.30pm on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday.