Chris Coleman has promised to ignore any Roy Keane barbs during Wales’ upcoming World Cup qualifier in Dublin.
Republic of Ireland assistant Keane could be a brooding touchline presence at the Aviva Stadium on Friday after his controversial comments about Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Speaking as an ITV pundit, Keane questioned whether Mourinho was up to the demands of managing his old club after the Portuguese complained about United’s crammed fixture list.
Keane’s combustible character adds an intriguing element to a World Cup clash which Wales go into four points behind Group D leaders the Republic of Ireland.
But Wales boss Coleman said: “All I’ll be listening to is (Republic manager) Martin O’Neill.
“If anybody out of the Ireland camp – Roy or the players – says anything my ears will be closed.
“But if Martin says something I’ll pay attention to that as he’s one of the managers I respect the most.
“He’s a shrewd and intelligent man and he’s done a great job with the Republic.
“We talk about our togetherness, but they’ve got it.
“If you look at the Republic they’ve probably had more gifted teams, but this is a together team who work for each other.
“That’s down to Martin – and we need to match that.”
Mourinho and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte made headlines when they were involved in an FA Cup touchline spat at Stamford Bridge this week.
But Coleman believes all the action will be on the pitch at a sold-out Aviva Stadium.
“Sometimes it gets the better of you (on the touchline), but nothing’s going to happen,” Coleman said.
“I’ve only ever reacted if the opposition manager or coach has said something derogatory about one of my players.
“My players are nothing to do with him. I’d never do that about one of theirs.
“If it’s going to get a little bit spiky it’s not really my style. I’ll be concentrating on what we need to do against the Republic.”
Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn has been included in the Wales squad and the 17-year-old could win his first cap from the bench.
But Wales’ dangerman remains Gareth Bale and Coleman says the Real Madrid forward has made a full recovery from ankle surgery.
Bale played a full 90 minutes in Real’s 2-1 LaLiga win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, but it was only his sixth appearance since the end of November.
“It’s always a worry because when he got injured he was out for three months,” Coleman said.
“Three months in football is a long time to be out and anything can happen.
“You can have a setback, but thankfully he didn’t.
“I was out in Madrid last month and having a chat and watching him train put my mind to rest.
“He’s an absolute specimen, a machine. He won’t be undercooked. He’s ready.”