19 Mar 19
The Irish Sun
A CENTRE-HALF who tries to tape up his own broken hand and plays on to the final whistle?
That sounds like the sort of player who might appeal to Mick McCarthy, a man known for not giving in easily during his career.
Richard Keogh has ‘a lot of excitement’ about working with Mick McCarthy
And Richard Keogh is determined to make the right impression on him, even though he reckons the new Ireland boss is already very familiar with him from his nine consecutive seasons in the Championship.
Keogh said: “I’ve played against his teams a lot over the years.
“He knows me very well. There is a lot of excitement in wanting to work with him.”
Working with new managers is a familiar feeling for Keogh.
Keogh is familiar with McCarthy’s teams from his years in the Championship
When Frank Lampard was put in charge at Pride Park at the start of the season, he became the eighth permanent boss the defender has had since joining in 2012.
And Keogh said: “It’s not great at times, you don’t want to keep changing managers.
“Here we had Martin O’Neill for a long time and he did some great things but everyone is excited to work with Mick.
“His record here speaks for itself, not just here, but in club management, he’s a great man and a great manager.”
As someone who won the vast majority of his caps under O’Neill — who also made him captain on occasion — Keogh was never likely to speak ill of the Derry man, sacked in November.
Asked how things had gone so badly wrong for Ireland at the back end of 2017 and 2018, Keogh said: “No player wanted to have the year we did.
“The disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup probably hit the squad harder than we thought.
“It took us a little while to get over it. With the Nations League we could have performed better in that.
“We’ve got to step up. With Martin, a lot of these players owe him a lot because he gave us a lot.
“We went to a major tournament, we had some great results along the way, so we’re grateful.
“But it’s not about what happened before, it’s about what happens now.
“There’s a manager coming in who has got a clear way of what he wants to do, that’s what we are working towards.
“The lads are excited to get out there, really attack the campaign and try and qualify for another tournament.”
Keogh is eager to make amends for a disastrous 2018
Already, some of the minor tweaks around the camp have been implemented.
McCarthy will not leave it until the last minute to name his team like O’Neill did but nor will he announce it publicly, in the style of Giovanni Trapattoni.
And the squad that meets up has been reduced down to a more manageable 23 players.
It ensures that anyone who reports in for duty will at least be on the bench on matchday.
That has meant some casualties, such as Keogh’s former Derby team-mate Cyrus Christie.
Christie had started the previous 11 competitive games for Ireland.
With Séamus Coleman and Matt Doherty providing competition, Christie — who has been on the bench for Fulham’s last six games — has been deemed surplus to requirements.
Keogh said: “Cyrus is going to be a big part of the future moving forward because he’s a good player.
“But I think the manager just wants players who are playing every week and ready to go.
“Things can change, a lot of the players that are on the standby list or who and aren’t quite there, it gives them something to aim for doesn’t it?
“If you want to represent Ireland, nothing comes easy and you’ve got to work for it.”
Not being a regular at club level is not something Keogh has experienced for a long time.
Since 2008, he has been a regular for, first, Carlisle United, then, Coventry City and, now, Derby.
So much so that earlier this month he clocked up his 600th appearance in English football.
Cyrus Christie has been left out of the squad
It is a source of pride but also one of motivation given that none of them have come in the top flight.
The closest he came was in 2014 when his high-profile error in the play-off final helped QPR win promotion at Derby’s expense.
He said: “I know what people have to sacrifice and the hard work that goes into just playing one professional game.
“So to play over 600 now at 32, which is still pretty young, is something I’ve looked back on and am very proud of.
“The consistency I’ve played with season after season fills me with pride, that I can keep maintaining my level of performance and even getting better.
“Every player wants to play in the Premier League and it’s not happened for me yet, for whatever reason. I feel my game has been good enough. I feel like I have proved that with Ireland and in the Championship.
“I have spoken to a lot of people who have played in the Premier League and worked there and they’ve been complimentary of me, saying my game is good enough.
“Football is about a bit of luck, about timing and stuff like that. There is no reason why I can’t get there with Derby. It’s still a massive drive.”
The Rams have won just one of their last seven games but are still just a point outside the play-offs.
And he said: “We went through a tough period at a time when teams were going through a good period.
“With nine games to go, it’s all to play for.
“When you come to this stage, it’s who can go and hold their way of playing, stick to the game-plan and if we can do that, I’m pretty confident we can get into the play-offs.”
With a promotion battle and McCarthy’s first games in charge, Keogh was not going to willingly go under the surgeon’s knife after breaking his hand a week ago against Stoke City.
He said: “Just the way the ball was spinning or the pace of the ball, it slapped my hand basically.
“It went all floppy. That’s why I thought I’d dislocated it.
“I was just kind of pushing it around, probably a bit of stupidity and adrenaline.
“I carried on and then after it was a bit sore, I went for the X-ray and found out I’d broken it
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“At first they wanted to do surgery but I said, ‘No, I’d rather just carrying on to playing to be honest and take the risk’.
“I spoke to the hand surgeon. He said, ‘You can have the surgery and still come get back quite quickly’ but potentially I might miss a few games.
“So I said with this coming up and a big end to the season with Derby, I’d rather just take the risk I suppose a little bit more and do this, just try and carry on and keep playing.”