IRELAND veterans Robbie Keane and Shay Given may be mixing it in the midlands before the start of the new season.
While Manchester City goalkeeper Given looks set to end his Eastlands nightmare by joining Aston Villa next week in a £3.5m deal, his international colleague Keane could be on his way to Villa’s local rivals West Bromwich Albion, after opening talks with Baggies boss Roy Hodgson.
Given’s destination ahead of the new Premier League season is more clear-cut as he strives to finalise personal terms before joining up with Richard Dunne at Villa Park. Keane, however, is wanted by West Brom and Blackburn, who both see Ireland’s record goalscorer as a marquee signing. His current club Spurs are willing to let Keane go for as little as £4.5m, and the Tallaght man - like Given - will be required to take a pay cut regardless of which club he decides to sign for.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed that Keane will make his mind up next week, with West Brom the favourites to clinch his signature. “At this moment Keane hopes that he goes. He speaks with clubs. He is talking to West Brom but there is also another club.
He makes his decision next week,” said Trapattoni, speaking at the press conference to announce his squad for next month’s friendly clash with Croatia at the Aviva Stadium. Should Keane and Given find new clubs next week, it will bring to five the number of Irish players selected by Trap that have moved to new clubs this summer. Given’s goalkeeping rival Keiren Westwood has already moved to Sunderland, where he was joined by former Manchester United defender John O’Shea.
O’Shea’s defensive partner Sean St Ledger has moved to Leicester from relegated Preston, with many more Irish players expected to move clubs before the Croatia game. Darron Gibson is also set to join Sunderland, while Preston’s Keith Treacy, Reading’s Shane Long and Wolves’ Andy Keogh could also be on the move.