Monday 24 October 2016

Martin O'Neill confirms Robbie Keane to miss England friendly after Bruce Arena request

Published 23/05/2015 | 18:38

Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane

ROBBIE KEANE is set to miss Ireland’s Aviva Stadium date with England on June 7 after a special request from LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena.

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The Tallaght man returned to club action with his employers last night following a seven week layoff due to a groin issue and came off the bench to create a last minute goal in their 1-0 win over Houston Dynamo.

Galaxy want to keep hold of the Irish skipper for their next three matches, including a clash with Vancouver Whitecaps on the same day of the England encounter.

And Martin O’Neill revealed today that he is likely to have no objections to that plan because he intends to experiment in the friendly meeting with Roy Hodgson’s side.

Keane negotiated a deal with Galaxy which freed him to play in the Wembley clash with England in 2013 but Ireland’s record goalscorer looks to be facing a different outcome this time around.

“I got an email from the coach to say that he would like him to stay on and have another game and miss the England game and I kind of understand that, particularly if we’re going to change things during the course of the match,” said O’Neill.

“Maybe it’s better now that he gets 90 minutes so I’ll probably give that consideration but I think that would be the best thing for him. In fairness to Bruce, he put in (request) a few weeks beforehand and I haven’t a problem with it.”

The Irish boss, speaking in Derry at a fundraising match for ex-Candystripes striker Mark Farren, added that he is confident Keane will be available for the crunch Euro 2016 qualifier with Scotland on June 13.

O’Neill will be at Stoke tomorrow to watch their Irish contingent finish up the season against Liverpool in a dead rubber yet he will be listening out for updates from Hull where Robbie Brady, David Meyler, Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn need a win against Manchester United and Newcastle to drop points against West Ham in order to stay up.

He is surprised they are in such a tricky position given that the Tigers were contesting an FA Cup final 12 months ago.

“Considering the year they had last year, which was terrific, when they were leading by a couple of goals in the cup final (v Arsenal) - I’m sure that a year on nobody would really have thought they’d be in this situation. It just hasn’t really happened for them,” he said. “They had two fantastic wins against Liverpool and Crystal Palace and you’d have thought they were on their way. Then, a set of results goes against you and suddenly you’re back in the quagmire again.

“At the end of it all, I’m sure if things go badly for them - you can’t blame anything else other than the fact you need the points on the board. From our own viewpoint, the Irish lads playing there, it would be a massive disappointment for them if it happened (relegation), it really would.

“They’re still in there fighting but the unfortunate thing would be that regardless of their result, it’s completely out of their hands. If Manchester United was all they were concerned about, there could be total focus on that but they can only do their best, try and win that game and hopefully something else happens for them.”

O’Neill was the manager of a Derry City Select in a Brandywell charity match which culminated in victory for a Northern Ireland XI managed by his counterpart Michael O’Neill.

It raised more cash for Farren (33) who will travel to Mexico on Monday to undergo life saving surgery following a remarkable fundraising effort driven by former colleagues when news of his plight entered the public domain. Derry’s all-time record goalscorer requires specialist brain tumour treatment.

“It’s a great cause,” said O’Neill, who hails from nearby Kilrea.  ”Michael called me in the first place, he made me aware of it and asked me if I’d take one of the teams. He said that he (Farren) needed some treatment and the treatment is abroad so I thought, yeah, absolutely.

“I must say, I know it’s the old cliche but it does put things into perspective. The lad’s had three operations now and this is the one that’s going to determine everything and I really think it’s worthwhile. The people of Derry have come out to support him and he’s held in great esteem.”

Special guests who figured in the free scoring exhibition included Bournemouth midfielder Eunan O’Kane, local favourite and Northern Irish international Paddy McCourt and actors Ayden Callaghan (Hollyoaks) and Danny O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys).

James McClean was also in attendance to support his friend Farren, although he was unable to get permission to play with his club future up in the air since Wigan were relegated from the Championship.

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