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Kelly: Goalies are all keepers

SHAY GIVEN is facing a month on the sidelines with a hamstring picked up in Premier League action last week, David Forde has missed Millwall's last three games due to injury, and QPR duo Paddy Kenny and Brian Murphy are also out of action.

But the plus side is that Keiren Westwood has established himself in the team at Sunderland, while Ireland's goalkeeping coach Kelly is certain that Given will be back to full fitness soon.

"Shay will be fine. It's just a hamstring injury and, if anything, he will come back more invigorated, he'll be in great shape for the finals," Kelly said yesterday, after accepting the Philips Sports Manager of the Year award on behalf of his boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

"I've been Shay's room-mate, team-mate and his coach over the years, I know what this means to him for Ireland to qualify and I don't have any concern about him being ready and I don't think he'll have a problem getting back into the Villa team when he's fit.

"No disrespect to Brad Guzan, who's filling in for Shay now, but Shay's influence over the whole team and over the whole game is outstanding. He will miss three or four games but I'm certain he'll be back in the team very soon.

"David Forde had a calf injury when he was over with us last month for the Estonia games, but he'll be fine too.

"The thing you see in a championship year is that everyone is desperate to be there at the finals. I know from being a player that in the build-up to a major finals you'd run over hot coals if you have to. The position is very healthy now. We have always had good strength in depth with Ireland but I think that's especially the case now with so many keepers available.

"We have Shay, Keiren and Fordey in the squad regularly, but Darren Randolph, Joe Murphy and Brian Murphy have also come in when needed and done well, so there are lots of players in the frame if someone gets injured.

"You need that in a championship year. Loss of form isn't as much an issue as it can be for outfield players but players can always pick up an injury so you need back-up," added Kelly.

The former international also revealed that Portsmouth keeper Stephen Henderson was also very much on the radar after an impressive 10-game run.

"I have watched Stephen a number of times when he was playing for the Ireland U21s, and he was very impressive then, but I know he's done well for Portsmouth and he's one to keep an eye on, he could come into the frame," said Kelly.

"I have done that myself as a player, come from the fringes and made the squad. That happened in 1994, when Gerry Peyton got injured before the finals and I made it into the squad, so it can happen and you can't rule anything out."

Ireland have never needed to use a back-up keeper at a major finals, as Packie Bonner (1988, 1990, 1994) and Shay Given (2002) played in every minute of every game, but Kelly -- who was an unused sub in 1994 and 2002 -- says that the understudies have to be ready.

"Even if they don't play, the other keepers add a lot to the squad," said Kelly. "We've had a couple of injuries in the last while, we needed Keiren Westwood to come in and play with Macedonia and Fordey came in to play against Italy, so they are all needed."


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