Keane in race against time to prove fitness
Published 17/03/2011 | 05:00
Robbie Keane has conceded that he is still short of full match fitness and may not be at concert pitch for Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia on Saturday week.
The Irish skipper has shaken off the calf problem that initially threatened to rule him out of the game, and returned to first-team action for the Hammers at the weekend with a 22-minute substitute appearance at Stoke.
He is unable to play against Spurs this weekend due to the terms of his loan arrangement, so lined out for the Hammers' reserves on Tuesday night, scoring during his hour on the pitch in a 4-2 win over Newcastle.
However, speaking to his club's website afterwards, Keane admitted he still has work to do, hinting that it might be a few weeks before he reaches 100pc fitness.
Giovanni Trapattoni acknowledged on Monday that he is unsure if his captain will be able to figure from the outset against Macedonia, with the match sharp Shane Long, Leon Best and Jonathan Walters providing competition.
"Hopefully I will be involved," said Keane. "And whatever minutes I play for Ireland will help me come back to 100pc fitness for the club.
"The more games I play before I come back to play in the Manchester United game in a few weeks time (April 2), obviously the better it will be.
"I will miss out on Saturday, so I need to get my match fitness up for the two games coming up."
The 30-year-old admitted he was deeply frustrated to be struck down in just his second appearance for West Ham after a campaign largely spent on the sidelines at Spurs.
"It has obviously been frustrating," he said. "You come to a new club and you want to play as soon as possible and you get injured. The injury is fine now. It's nice to get back and be able to get another 60 minutes, and I'm looking forward now to pushing on."