Dublin trip is no joke for Robbie

ROBBIE Keane says he's delighted to be back on home soil this week as his club, LA Galaxy, swapped the sun of Los Angeles for the Dublin rain as part of their pre-season programme.

Galaxy begin the defence of their MLS crown next month but the club have opted to come to Europe for their preparations.

Bruce Arena's side play Hammarby in Stockholm on Monday and face Shamrock Rovers in Keane's native Tallaght next Saturday but the side have been training for the past two days at the home of Malahide United, a ground Keane knows well as that's the team base for Ireland.

And the Irish captain said that taking Galaxy to Dublin for pre-season was a big deal.

"It means a lot to me. To go back home, see everybody, bring the team to my country," said Keane.

"Everyone's excited this side of the pond and certainly over there, they're looking forward to the game and the team training in Ireland.

"It's more about fitness and getting sharp. That's what pre-season is all about. You play the games, you get match-fit in games, but the results are not the big thing. Of course, you want to win every time you play, but more important is the fitness end. Come March 6th, we should be fit and ready to go."

The clichés attached to any foreigners visiting Ireland have already stacked up, with a visit to the Guinness brewery on the agenda but Keane says this is not a jolly-up. "As soon as we put the hard work, the effort in on the training field, we'll have some time to relax. But the most important thing is we're over here to get ourselves ready for the start of the season," Keane added.

Boss Arena said he was on board with the idea of Keane leading the side to Dublin.

"We wanted to come to Europe, we looked at a variety of places but in the end we said why not come to Dublin, home of Robbie Keane, and let the Irish people see Robbie here with his club," said Arena.

"There have been a lot of top players in our league but few have achieved the success that Robbie has, personally and with his club.

"He's been the most valuable player in our league and has continued to maintain his international career with Ireland. He's been a great addition to he club and the MLS."