Friday 25 May 2018

'Back to my best' - Keane feeling ‘fitter and sharper’

Robbie Keane in action during squad training ahead of the game against the Czech Republic
Robbie Keane in action during squad training ahead of the game against the Czech Republic
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ROBBIE KEANE has declared that he is back to his best after admitting that his confidence was damaged by an unsuccessful move to Liverpool and subsequent struggles at both Tottenham and West Ham.

The Ireland captain agrees with his team-mate Shay Given, who last week said that a happy loan spell with Aston Villa has lifted the striker's spirits, although the 31-year-old denies that he needs a permanent move back to the Premier League to sort out some unfinished business. He attributes his resurgence at Villa to a smooth start to life at LA Galaxy that concluded with MLS Cup success.

"It's a fair comment," said Keane when asked about Given's assessment. "It's just about playing, and being sharper and fitter and getting the benefits. I wouldn't say it was just Villa, it was going to Galaxy and winning the championship over the few months."

Alex McLeish would love to bring the Tallaght man back to Villa, but Keane was diplomatic on his plans and doesn't feel the need to prove himself.

"I've scored over 100 goals in the Premier League," he said, "I don't feel I have to prove anything."

Keane will jet back to Los Angeles tomorrow after tonight's friendly and the skipper will make the journey in the knowledge that the thorny issue of Irish player bonuses for Euro 2012 is sorted with the FAI.

A statement will be released tomorrow after what Keane described as a short meeting. "Everything will be very clear," he said. "It's all positive."

Some members of the squad were unhappy with an initial offer from the FAI that represented a significant reduction on World Cup 2002 levels. All parties will be happy to remove the matter from the agenda so the team can build on the good vibes surrounding the summer ahead.

Trapattoni has picked his strongest available team for the Czech clash, with Darren O'Dea and Shane Long stepping in for the injured Richard Dunne and Kevin Doyle.

Newcomer James McClean was fitted for a Euro 2012 suit yesterday, but he will need to make a strong impression from the bench if he is to have any chance of making the plane.

The FAI expect a turnout in the region of 30,000 for tonight's Lansdowne Road feature. Around 38,000 tickets have been distributed, with a number of discounts offered with a view to driving up the numbers.

Meanwhile, there was good news yesterday with regard to the scramble for Euro 2012 tickets after the association announced they have secured approximately 800 extra tickets from UEFA for the matches in Poznan and Gdansk.

They will be distributed to fans who are already registered with and anxiously waiting for good news.

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