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Former Tottenham star urges new Ireland manager to build team around Ferguson

As the Republic of Ireland’s most capped player and all-time top goalscorer, Robbie Keane is well-placed to comment on the future of the national team.

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker represented his country at the World Cup and European Championship during a time when Ireland had a reasonably strong squad.

However, things have dropped off a cliff in recent years, with the Boys in Green failing to qualify for the last four major tournaments.

Their most recent disappointment came as they missed out on qualifying for the 2024 European Championship, which resulted in Stephen Kenny being relieved of his duties as manager last November.

They have yet to appoint a permanent replacement, with ex-Manchester United defender John O’Shea recently placed in interim charge for upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland.

Online bookmakers think O’Shea will have his work cut out, with Ireland rated as underdogs in the upcoming matches at the Aviva Stadium.

However, the latest football betting on who will be the next Ireland manager ranks O’Shea as the 9/4 favourite to be handed the job permanently.

Keane, who has also been touted as a possible contender, says whoever gets the job must have a clear idea about the best way to take Ireland forward.

“A new manager needs to come in now and put his own identity and philosophy on how he wants his team to play,” Keane told Betway.

“Are they going to be a pressing team, a team that tries to build from the back, or are they going to get in people’s faces? It depends on what manager comes in, what style he wants to implement and what personnel he brings into that group.”

Ireland’s bid to qualify for major tournaments over the next few years will be built around a group of players who have been making their mark in England.

Blackburn Rovers midfielder Sammie Szmodics was criminally underutilised by Kenny despite emerging as a standout performer for the Championship club.

Numerous other Irish talents are dotted around the Premier League, giving hope that a brighter future could be on the cards for the national team.

The headline name is undoubtedly Evan Ferguson, who has become one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe following his exploits with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Ferguson has been strongly linked with several clubs including Tottenham, although the rumoured £100 million asking price could be problematic.

Regardless of where he ends up plying his trade, Keane believes the 19-year-old will play a pivotal role for Ireland over the next few years.

“We have Ferguson, and you want to how the manager is going to play to suit him because he’s the one that will get you goals,” Keane added.

“We have a lot of young players and it might take a couple of years to really get them together, but it feels like it’s a new cycle coming along so it will be exciting for the manager.”

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