Inspired veteran Keane gears up for Euros mission
Robbie Keane showcased his well-being ahead of the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers with a fine brace for LA Galaxy in their thrashing of New York Red Bulls on Sunday night.
The Dubliner sent Galaxy on their way to a 4-0 victory with a perfectly executed cheeky chip that had pundits raving and then added another goal as his side strolled to success over a visiting side that included Ireland's old foe Thierry Henry.
It means he has now scored 17 goals this season for the MLS side, surpassing his previous best of 16 which he struck in the past two campaigns. Keane has reached that mark from 27 appearances.
He will be hoping to carry that form into Saturday week's encounter with Gibraltar and the meeting with world champions Germany a fortnight from today.
The veteran picked up a knock in the build-up to the opening win over Georgia and was unable to really make a big impact on that game.
"I'm satisfied with what I've done this season and every year the aim is do better than the year before," said Keane.
"In football, the most important thing is consistency. If you're consistent every year and you can continue and strive to do better than you did the year before . . .
"Every year since I've been here, I've done that. That's all you can ask for. More assists than the year before, more goals this year. To challenge yourself every season to do that."
The 34-year-old said that his audacious opener, one of those efforts that can look horrible when it backfires, was straight from the training ground.
"I'm always doing it," he said. "And it's better when it comes off, obviously. As soon as I get an angle like that, I'm always going to do that."
Up-and-coming Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes paid tribute to the enduring quality of his experienced colleague.
"I've watched Robbie Keane over the years, and he has always been consistent," he said.
"He is an incredible and phenomenal forward. So just seeing that from him, the chip and his other goal, it's just wonderful to see that and play alongside of that."
Keane's Irish position is likely to be under scrutiny when Martin O'Neill's side meet up next week.
He is certain to figure against Gibraltar but the Derry man indicated at his provisional squad announcement last week that the pace of Shane Long on the break made him a strong contender for the Germany clash.
If he was to be selected in a striking berth, O'Neill would have to decide whether to retain Keane or go with the three-man central midfield that featured in Tbilisi.
Jeff Hendrick could further his claims for involvement in the double-header if he returns to the Derby squad for this evening's Championship meeting with Bournemouth.
Hendrick is back in training after a dislocated shoulder and Rams boss Steve McClaren is weighing up whether to include him in his match-day squad this evening or wait until the weekend meeting with Millwall.
O'Neill is an admirer of the 22-year-old central midfielder, who impressed in the summer gathering.
Meanwhile, ex-Derry winger Stephen McLaughlin has joined city rivals Notts County on a one-month loan from Nottingham Forest.
McLaughlin was part of the Forest side that was knocked out of the League Cup by Spurs last week and has been squeezed for league openings under Stuart Pearce.