Friday 23 March 2018

Huge boost for Trap as Keane gets back in mix

Robbie Keane. Photo: Sportsfile
Robbie Keane. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ROBBIE KEANE returned to training with Spurs yesterday providing a welcome boost for Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of next week's Euro 2012 qualifier with Armenia.

The Irish skipper, who could still leave the London club before the close of the transfer window, missed his side's Premier League win over Stoke at the weekend after jarring his knee in the Champions League tie with Young Boys Bern.

There were concerns that his problems could carry over into the upcoming international double header with the Armenians and Andorra, which would be a serious problem for Trapattoni considering he has named just three strikers in his squad.

However, Keane was back on duty with his club yesterday morning, although he remains a doubt for the return leg of that European tie in London tonight.

"We'll wait to see if they have any reaction," said Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, with Keane among a quartet of players who rejoined preparations after incurring setbacks in Switzerland.

Trapattoni's key players have endured a difficult start to the new campaign, with Keane and Shay Given out of favour, and other regular starters struggling with their fitness.

Keith Andrews and Liam Lawrence, who would be included in the Italian's first-choice starting XI, are sidelined with groin problems.

Blackburn midfielder Andrews missed his club's Carling Cup tie with Norwich last night with the complaint that ruled him out of their Premier League loss to Birmingham at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Lawrence was struck down in preparations for Ireland's friendly meeting with Argentina a fortnight ago.

His injury came at a particularly unfortunate time, given that he was preparing to leave Stoke -- although Celtic failed to follow through on their initial interest.

The 28-year-old will find it difficult to secure new employment while he struggles with his fitness.


Given, whose career also remains in limbo, may come into contention for tomorrow's Europa League decider against FC Timisoara. Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is keen to keep Given, even though the Ireland star realises he is condemned for a spell on the bench given Joe Hart's recent brilliance.

"Joe is responding to the faith I have shown in him," said Mancini. "It was difficult for me to make this decision because I have two fantastic goalkeepers.

"At this moment I choose Joe, but I hope Shay can stay with us because we need two big goalkeepers."

Elsewhere, Fraser Forster has completed his season-long loan move from Newcastle to Celtic, the Scottish club have confirmed.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper becomes Neil Lennon's 10th signing of the summer and, after training with his new team-mates at Lennoxtown yesterday, said at his unveiling: "I'm here to provide competition and I aim to be number one."

Irish Independent

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