The 31-year-old picked up his second booking of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in last night's 2-1 victory over the Macedonians at the Aviva Stadium and will therefore sit out the return in Skopje.

But Keane insists it is unreasonable to expect defenders not to incur two cautions over the course of 10 group games.

He said: "That rule - two yellow cards - has to change. The chance of defenders getting yellow cards, it's going to happen, 100 per cent they are going to get two yellow cards in 10 games.

"It's ridiculous, they need to change that rule. It's a shame that Richard is going to be missing, he's a massive, massive player for us.

"Hopefully we get people like John O'Shea back fit and Shay Given, the experienced players. Hopefully they will be fit in June.

"But Richard is a big loss, obviously."

Dunne was one of six men, three from either side, to be yellow-carded by Hungarian official Istvan Vad, although there was astonishment within the Irish camp that Macedonia defender Boban Grncharov did not see red for an horrendous 49th-minute challenge on Shane Long.

Grncharov took full retribution for an earlier run-in when he caught Long with his studs in the side of the head as the striker jumped to meet a high ball, leaving him with wounds which required three stitches.

Keane said: "It was an horrific tackle and certainly a red card, there's no question.

"The referee was only 10 yards away from it, and to give [keeper Keiren] Westwood a yellow card for time-wasting two minutes into the second half and then give the fella a yellow card for that tackle just doesn't make sense."

Ultimately, Long and his team-mates had the last laugh as they emerged with the points to draw level at the top of Group B with Russia, who could only draw in Armenia, and Slovakia following their 1-0 victory in Andorra.

The race for qualification is wide open once again, and Giovanni Trapattoni's men will head to Skopje knowing they will be right in the mix if they can complete a double over Macedonia.

Keane said: "It's a strange group. I said the other day people are going to take points from each other, and that has been the case with Armenia and Russia.

"Armenia is a tough place to go, so they will take points from a lot of people. That result in Armenia for us [a 1-0 victory in September] looks good now.

"It's important that we keep ourselves in there. It was a massive, massive three points for us and we are absolutely delighted."

Ireland's latest success came in characteristically complicated fashion as they raced into a 2-0 lead inside 21 minutes as Macedonia keeper Edin Nuredinoski allowed Aiden McGeady's shot into his bottom corner with just 85 seconds gone before spilling Darron Gibson's free-kick at Keane's feet.

But the excellent Ivan Trichkovski pulled one back in the final minute of the first half to set up a nervous second 45 minutes during which Westwood had to make a fine 75th-minute save to deny Trichkovski an equaliser.

Trapattoni was particularly pleased with McGeady's contribution as the Spartak Moscow winger marked his 38th senior international appearance with his first goal for his country.

McGeady, who carried out his manager's request to shoot on sight to the letter, said: "I am just absolutely delighted. People would mention it to me now and again, but I was starting to think about it myself all the time.

"Games would come and go and there would be chances here and there, and I would miss the odd chance or stick one over the bar.

"In the Norway game the other month, I had a half-chance on the edge of the box and I was thinking, 'When's the next time I will get a chance like that?'.

"I was just absolutely delighted that I scored."

McGeady could get the chance to add to his tally in Tuesday night's friendly against Uruguay in Dublin, although senior men Keane, Dunne, Kevin Kilbane and Damien Duff have been sent home to re-charge their batteries.

Wolves striker Kevin Doyle has joined them and was today due to undergo a scan on the medial ligament he damaged early in last night's game and which Trapattoni suggested cold sideline him for up to two months.

Trapattoni revealed he had offered Keane the chance to stay and captain his country for the 41st time after he equalled Andy Townsend's record last night, but was happy to send him on his way.

The Italian said: "I spoke with him and he is happy to beat the record in the future.

"It was better for him to go home to his family, like Kevin Kilbane, like Richard Dunne and like Damien Duff."