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Delaney gives Keane a boost on his return

ROY KEANE has received some good news on the injury front as Ireland international Damien Delaney is available again.

The Ipswich Town boss was facing a defensive nightmare for Saturday's game with Portsmouth as his four options at left back -- all of them Irish -- were missing. Mark Kennedy and Delaney have long-term injuries, Shane O'Connor picked up an injury on duty for the Irish U21s last week while Darren O'Dea was forced to withdraw from the Ireland senior squad before the Andorra match with a knee complaint.

But Cork native Delaney, capped twice at senior level by Giovanni Trapattoni, played 45 minutes for the Ipswich reserves yesterday and is now in line to play. "There are no problems and it was great to be back playing again," he said.

Purcell's season over after injury

IRISH striker Tadhg Purcell will miss the rest of the season due to a serious knee injury.

The former Shamrock Rovers man joined League Two side Northampton at the start of this season following some superb form for Darlington last term, but Purcell will not play any part until next term.

"He's going to be out for the season which is not good for the club," said Cobblers boss Ian Sampson.

"His cruciate ligament has been ruptured and his lateral knee ligament has been damaged. At first we didn't think it was too serious -- we just thought it was a collision -- but the scan results show quite a devastating injury for the boy.

"He had to earn his place in the team; he was starting to train better, played at Reading and the game after that. Now he's had the injury and it's devastating for us and the lad himself, more importantly for him."

Swans suffer as Butler sidelined

FORMER Ireland international Thomas Butler will be out of action with Swansea City for three months after undergoing surgery on a thigh injury.

"It's disappointing," said Butler, capped twice by Mick McCarthy in 2002.

"The operation was the only option for me because the muscle needed to be stitched back together.

"It's going to be a long road back, but I am determined to get there and play a part in the second half of the campaign."