Passion of Man United icon Roy Keane still important for Ireland, claims Martin O'Neill

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Martin O’Neill has insisted he still wants the passion Roy Keane used to drive Manchester United to the pinnacle of club football within his Republic of Ireland set-up.

O’Neill found himself having to defend his “brilliant” assistant manager as they prepared for Tuesday’s friendly in Poland after an alleged foul-mouthed rant from the former United skipper.

Audio emerged on social media supposedly of defender Stephen Ward outlining a version of Keane’s training ground altercation with the pair during the summer.

In it, Ward claims that Keane called Cardiff midfielder Arter, who is on loan from Bournemouth, a “p****” and a “c***”.

The manager admitted last week that Arter’s decision to make himself unavailable for Ireland could have been down to the row, but disputed the detail of the account provided by Ward – who was not there at the time.

Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson famously dispensed with his inspirational captain after a brutally frank interview with the club’s own television channel, but asked if he fears he may have to do the same at some point, O’Neill was defiant.

He said: “You were talking about Roy Keane there – this was after Roy Keane had coerced that top- quality team to win seven championships or something like that, in a 10-year period.

“Roy Keane was the driving force of that team. He had great, great players, the Welsh manager [Ryan Giggs] beside him, David Beckham, an iconic figure in the game, a world-class goalkeeper [Peter Schmeichel] and top-class players who could have played anywhere in the world.

“He drove them on and they have all admitted that. He was looking for exacting standards and that’s exactly what I want, exacting standards whatever way they are mentioned to people.

“If people are not up to them, not necessarily in terms of ability all the time, then I do think the players or other people have to have a look at them.

“That’s not to say that every utterance that myself or Roy Keane makes is absolutely and utterly correct.”

O’Neill revealed he had spoken to Ward, who apologised for the leak, and dismissed suggestions it could end his international career.

But asked if he had sympathy for the Burnley full-back, who did not witness the row and has withdrawn from the current squad with a foot injury, he replied: “Today… probably not. Tomorrow… probably not also.

“He has been betrayed by some of his friends, who he has known for a long, long time. That will be a disappointment for him.”

Meanwhile, the Ireland boss also suggested Arter, who he admitted may have made himself unavailable for this month’s games because of his altercation with Keane, and his number two could yet reconcile their differences.

O’Neill said: “I think there might be a bit of a reconciliation between Roy and Harry. Certainly Roy is up for that.”

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Barcelona midfielder Arthur set to make first Brazil start as Tite rings changes

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Coach Tite will change more than half of the Brazil starting line-up ahead of their second post-World Cup friendly against El Salvador.

The Selecao were dumped out of the tournament in Russia at the quarter-final stage by Belgium, but secured a convincing 2-0 win against the USA last week with another much-changed squad.

For the Tuesday night game (04:30 Wednesday UAE) at FedEx Field in Washington, Tite again looks to be fine-tuning his team before Copa America next year, saying it is important to give younger players an opportunity to build on their confidence.

The coach also suggested he would be preserve the fitness of some of the team, with captain Neymar only playing in part of the game.

Tite told a press conference: “Neymar must participate in only one part of the game. I have some important situations to manage: first, play well and win, either against El Salvador or France.

“The second is the moment for opportunities for younger players to work for them to have confidence.

“The third, is that when I was a club coach, I always expected the players to come back in good condition.”

Alisson, Fabinho, Thiago Silva, Filipe Luis, Fred and Firmino are being replaced by Neto, Eder Militao, Dede, Alex Sandro, Arthur and Richarlison.

Goalkeeper Neto, who alongside right-back Militao is making his debut, said he was proud to be be given the opportunity to start for his national side.

Quoted on the team’s website, he said: “It is a great pride, an immeasurable pleasure. The coach called me after yesterday’s training and told me I would have the opportunity. I am in a moment where I feel really prepared for this chance.”

El Salvador – who have only competed in two World Cups – are reported to be without one of their top scorer, Rodolfo Zelaya.

Coach Carlos de los Cobos told Brazilian newspaper Lance: “I have to give the opportunity to other players. Zelaya is good technically and I know his skills. He can contribute later.”

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England come up with smart way to mark 25th anniversary of Kick It Out anti-racism group

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The first 25 seconds of England’s friendly against Switzerland on Tuesday will be broadcast in black and white to honour the 25th anniversary of football’s anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out.

The picture on Sky Sports’ – the domestic British broadcaster – coverage of the game at Leicester’s King Power Stadium will switch to black and white as the teams take the pitch, and it will be first time England action has been broadcast without colour in nearly half a century.

The game, which kicks off at 20:00 in the UK, has been dedicated to Kick It Out by the football Association and England’s stars will show their support by warming up in branded t-shirts and entering the pitch alongside mascots chosen by the charity.

In a statement, the FA’s inclusion advisory board chairman Paul Elliott said: “Kick It Out have been a catalyst for the change in English football both on and off the pitch and we’re delighted to celebrate their inspirational work in promoting football for all.

“Hopefully the footage will encourage the millions of viewers at home to spend at least 25 seconds thinking about the importance of diversity in this beautiful game of ours.”

Kick It Out chair Lord Herman Ouseley said the charity, which was founded in 1993, was delighted with the gesture and hoped it would be a “powerful reminder of how far football has come in the last 25 years to make the a game a more open and diverse place”.

England go into the match trying to avoid a fourth-straight defeat, having lost their last two games at the World Cup this summer and their Nations League opener against Spain at Wembley on Saturday.

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