Thursday 27 July 2017

Keane refuses to contemplate life outside the elite

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Robbie Keane was in premier company last night when he was part of the official welcoming party for President Obama, and the Ireland skipper has confirmed that he wants to stay in football's elite classes next season.

The 30-year-old has dismissed the prospect of dropping to Championship level in search of regular action, and is confident of continuing his career in the Premier League.

However, he accepts that he is likely to leave Spurs, observing that the Londoners will look to cash in this summer, considering he has just one year remaining on his contract.

Keane, who will lead Ireland out for tonight's Carling Nations Cup tie with Northern Ireland, rejected the suggestion that contact has already been made with newly promoted QPR, stating he doesn't expect any further clarity until July.

For now, he is looking ahead to an international window, where the most significant encounter is Saturday week's Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia in Skopje.

"No, no, not at the moment," said Keane, when directly asked if dropping to a lower level was something he would consider if push came to shove.

"Unfortunately, as a player, sometimes your future isn't in your hands. I'm a Tottenham player and who knows what's going to happen?

"I'm sure they are going to try and get a bit of money for me. But I want to stay in the Premiership for the next couple of years and then, after that, whatever," added Keane, who didn't rule out the prospect of trying out the United States in the long term.

He admitted that he had suffered a season to forget, with the first half spent on the sidelines at Spurs, and the second at West Ham where injury curtailed his contribution. A clause to make his loan move permanent would have been activated if the Hammers had stayed up, but he won't be going there now.

Keane did come back for the final weeks of the campaign and missed some gilt-edged chances which might have made a difference. By his own admission, he is still short of full fitness and that's why he is looking forward to the Carling Nations Cup with more relish than most.

"I'll definitely benefit from these two games," he stressed. "I probably won't play the full 90 against Northern Ireland. Maybe 45 minutes and then longer on Sunday against Scotland. But I'm looking forward to it.

"It's been a frustrating couple of years for me. I went to Celtic, did really well. This year is one that I want to try and forget as much as you can."

Never one to admit weakness, Keane said that he remained upbeat despite enduring a difficult time and facing into further uncertainty.

"It's one of those things. I can't let it affect me or bother me," he asserted. "I've had it most of my career, so it's something you can't really worry about.

Professional

"Sometimes, being a professional footballer, you don't have a stable home. You move here, there and everywhere. That's something which has been the case for me. I've only got a couple of years left, so I want to make the most of them.

"Obviously, the chances of going somewhere and winning the Premiership are fairly slim for me. So it's about enjoying my football, playing as much as I can, and maybe going to a team where I can help the younger players that are coming through. I'm at that stage," added the Tallaght man, who reiterated that he will keep turning up for Irish duty as long as he feels able for it.

Another player in a similar boat this week is Shay Given. After a season marred by injury and exclusion, the Donegal native is desperate to get some games under his belt ahead of the big date in Skopje.

Keane reckons Given is the best in the business, and is bemused as to why a club like Arsenal haven't made a concerted move for his services.

"They could have bought him a few years ago," he mused. "I still think he's the best 'keeper in the Premiership.

"I'm probably being a bit biased because I've worked with Shay and he's a friend, but whoever does buy him will be getting a world-class goalkeeper and a good fella around the dressing room."

Irish Independent

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