Ireland must hit Bale hard - Keane targeting Wales star

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In order to stop Gareth Bale in their upcoming World Cup qualifier, Republic of Ireland must hit the Wales star, according to assistant Roy Keane.

Bale will be influential in the outcome of Friday's blockbuster Group D clash in Dublin and Keane is braced for the Real Madrid forward's impact at Aviva Stadium.

The 27-year-old needs a hat-trick to move past Ian Rush's 28 international goal as Wales' all-time leading goalscorer.

A tenacious and tough-tackling midfielder during his playing days with Manchester United, Keane - who did not advocate foul play - said: "Bale is a world class player. What you find is that players and coaches have tried to come up with a plan [to stop him] before, but top players figure it out and affect the game anyway. Bale has done that for a number of years on the big occasions.

"I can't say we have any particular plan. We will respect all the Welsh players, because they have that foundation for him to go and express himself, that's why he has a big impact on all their results, be it with goals or assists. 

"But your eyes don't lie when you see good players, he's a brilliant player. He's been doing it right there at the highest level in the last few years.

"The basic advice to any player if you're up against a word class player: somebody get to him, get to him as quick as you can, don't let him get his head up like he does at Real Madrid. Don't give him space in behind because the boy can run. Tackle him. Hit him...fairly. Tackling is part of the bloody game."

Ireland top the group after four matches, four ahead of third-placed Wales.