Republic of Ireland defender Richard Keogh ready to do battle
Richard Keogh is relishing the chance to do battle with Bosnia-Herzegovina striker Edin Dzeko as the Republic of Ireland set their sights on the Euro 2016 finals.
With central defender John O'Shea both suspended and injured for the first leg of the play-off in Zenica on Friday evening, there is at least one place up for grabs in Martin O'Neill's rearguard with Keogh, Marc Wilson and Ciaran Clark seemingly battling it out for the starting berths.
But if the 29-year-old Derby man gets the nod, he insists he will look forward to the task of keeping the Manchester City frontman, currently on loan at Roma, at bay.
Asked to assess the threat posed by Dzeko, Keogh said: "He's got a bit of everything.
"He's tall and he's deceptively quick, he's got a nice touch - his all-round game is something that you have to watch out for. He's one of those where you think he is probably going to head it, but he jumps up and brings it down on his chest.
"It's little things like that you have got to be aware of. He tries to link the play, so he is a player that is a big threat for them.
"But as a team we will do our homework on them and not just him, the team in general. But I am ready to play and I want to play against the best players. He's certainly up there, so it would be a great challenge."
However, Keogh and his team-mates are well aware that Dzeko is not Bosnia's only threat, with Roma team-mate Miralem Pjanic a dead-ball specialist who could hurt them in a variety of situations.
Keogh said: "Not giving away cheap free-kicks would be helpful. When you have got players who have quality from set-plays it obviously is a danger, so we have to not give away any cheap free-kicks and give them an opportunity to score or to put it into our box."
O'Neill's men head for Zenica boosted by last month's qualifier victory over world champions Germany and confident they have what it takes to make it to France next summer.
Keogh said: "When you beat such a quality team as Germany it does give you confidence that you can compete with the best countries in the world, so going into a big game we can draw a lot of confidence from that."