Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan is a firm fan of Roy Keane
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan has admitted new Republic of Ireland assistant boss Roy Keane was one of his boyhood idols.
Hoolahan earned rave reviews for his 70-minute outing in the 3-0 friendly win over Latvia that heralded the start of a new Irish era under the experienced Martin O'Neill and number two Keane. The Dubliner is expected to feature again in Tuesday's latest away friendly in Poland after being given creative licence by the Republic's new double act.
Hoolahan has endured a frustrating time this season for the Canaries with his only Premier League start coming in the opening day draw against Everton, but the 31-year-old could well form a key part of the Republic's Euro2016 qualifying plans.
'Roy Keane is a legend here in Ireland, and I supported Manchester United as well so to work with Roy is just great,' said Hoolahan. 'But for me the main thing is getting minutes on the pitch. I felt we played really well (against Latvia) and passed the ball well. It was a good win.
'The formation suits me. I like to play in the hole in the pockets between midfield and the striker, and get on the ball. The tempo was a lot different to before and we have something to build on. It was good to get off to a winning start, and hopefully we can continue on from here.'
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Former Norwich boss O'Neill believes the Keane factor has already started to pay dividends within the Republic squad.
'You will be surprised about Roy and I think you will be pleasantly surprised about him. The players have really taken to him and he has been terrific, genuinely terrific around the place,' he said. 'Poland will be a tough test for the players. They have some real threats in their squad but we will try to play to our strengths and show the same focus we displayed against Latvia.
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'It was nice to get a few goals and I thought some of our play was terrific. Overall, I was delighted with the team, delighted with their attitude and delighted with the crowd's response. The match will also provide me with an opportunity to look at some of the options we have within the squad.'
O'Neill revealed he has had no requests from club managers to rest players for his second game in charge, but insisted he is keen to have a relationship with them having experienced life on the other side of the fence.
'No, I haven't, not one thing, not a soul. No one has sent any messages out saying for someone to play a half or something like that,' he said. 'Of course, even at this early stage, I wouldn't mind, really, getting a decent enough rapport with club managers. I know from past experiences, I would have actually appreciated an international manager calling me to say, 'Listen, it's the second game, I might only play one of your players for, let's say, the first half, or something like that, in the game'. All those things were greatly appreciated at the time, so I don't see why now, since the positions are reversed, that I shouldn't listen to the same. But no one has actually called.'