MARTIN O’NEILL has been urged to ditch Robbie Keane for the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland.
The Republic of Ireland are due to face Gordon Strachan’s rejuvenated side at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 13th June.
And Irish legend Paul McGrath insists his nation’s record goalscorer, with 65 strikes from 139 international appearances, must be axed by the former Celtic boss.
The former Manchester United star said: “It’s time for Robbie Keane to go.
“I hate to be the one to bring this issue up, but there is a shelf-life for every footballer and I fear that Ireland’s greatest-ever striker has reached the point where his has expired.
“Robbie has been a wonderful servant to Irish football and his record testifies to that.
“But now I feel it’s time for Martin to say to say to Robbie: ‘Retire on your own terms or stay with us for the rest of the qualifiers, but you have earned the right to be told in advance that you won’t be a starter.’
“For me, the problem with Robbie is not even that he can’t get goals any more – it is a tactical issue.
“Even 10 years ago, when he was 24, Robbie could not play as a lone striker. He always worked best off a partner.
“Martin playing Robbie alone up front is not working.”
McGrath, who played 83 times for the Irish, added: “It pains me to have to go down this road of calling time on Robbie.
“But after last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Poland, the best we are going to get now is a play-off for a place in France next summer.
“We can afford no more mistakes, no more points dropped at home.
“We have to attack in Dublin and we have to get it right – that means picking the players and the formation best suited to that end.
“The worst thing is that maybe we have to get a point off the Germans, too, when the World Cup winners come to Dublin in October. That’s how hard it has just become to qualify for the Euro Finals.
“Now it comes down to beating Scotland – if we don’t, Ireland will not be in France.
“Maybe Robbie will score the winner in that one and make me eat my words. I would be delighted if he could do just that.
“For the sake of Irish football, I would be delighted to be proven wrong.
“I just don’t think I will be.”