Keane: All or nothing against Sweden
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane has admitted his nation's hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals will evaporate if they lose Friday night's crucial qualifier against Sweden in Stockholm.
Keane, 32, may well call time on a magnificent international career that has seen him snare a record 54 goals if Giovanni Trapattoni's men go down against the Swede's and fail to make an impact in next Tuesday's clash against Austria in Dublin.
Trapattoni's future as Ireland boss is also on the line in Sweden and Keane is not attempting to ease the pressure as he offered up a stern assessment of the task facing the Irish in the next few days.
"These are the two most important games," conceded Keane, whose move to America's MLS championship with Los Angeles Galaxy has intensified calls for him to bring down the curtain on his Ireland career.
"It is vitally important by Wednesday that we have four to six points. Tomorrow is certainly very important. They are a point ahead of us and if we lose it is certainly going to be tough. It is very important we get something out of these two games.
"I don't think there is much between the two teams. We are not here to sit back and let the Swedes run all over us, we are here to give them a game. I think we are similar in the players that we have and the way we play.
"Of course they are at home and I am sure the home fans will be backing them to get a result but we are here to get a result ourselves. We have to roll up our sleeves and do what we do best, give 100 per cent. If we do that we will be okay."
Trapattoni's position as Republic of Ireland manager has been under scrutiny since his side's disappointing showing at Euro 2012 last summer, with FAI chief John Delaney refusing to be drawn on suggestions that Irish soccer chiefs will look to oust the 74-year-old Italian if the Sweden and Austria matches do not go according to plan.
If Trapattoni's future is back on the agenda of FAI officials next week, current Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy is the favourite to return to the Republic of Ireland job he proudly held more than a decade ago, while Norwich manager Chris Hughton is another strong contender to oversee a rebuilding process ahead of Euro 2016.
Trapattoni's tactics for the match have also raised concern, with Paul Green chosen ahead of Wigan's James McCarthy, while Kevin Doyle was overlooked for the upcoming matches.
But the Italian was defiant in his selections, insisting he has prepared to get a positive result from both matches.
"The next match will obviously be very important," Trapattoni said. "It will be important to keep in mind there is only one point between us and Sweden in our pool. As always every little detail is important to achieve the result.
"International games are a little bit different physically, in attitude, mentality, personality. If we are to have this balance, if Seamus Coleman goes forward (from right-back), I said we must also push the defensive line. We have to stay in this position. Paul Green has the attitude."
Ireland team to take on Sweden: D Forde, M Wilson, C Clark, J O'Shea, S Coleman, P Green, G Whelan, R Brady, J McClean, R Keane, S Long.