Keane hails impact of 'terrific' Coleman
On-the-mend striker insists full-back 'has everything'
THE last weekend of the year was a time for nostalgia but Robbie Keane has his eyes fully trained on what 2014 can bring.
Utilising the recuperation period following surgery on his troublesome Achilles to visit his first club, Crumlin United, the Ireland skipper spoke with excitement about the year ahead for club and country.
Time may be ticking towards his 34th birthday, yet the striker is still very much an integral part of the Ireland and LA Galaxy set-ups.
Martin O'Neill last week all but confirmed Keane's continuation as Ireland captain for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, and he has just been handed a new two-year contract by Galaxy boss Bruce Arena.
He will be back ready for action by March, when his club season kicks off and Ireland play a friendly against Serbia.
When he sees the youthful exuberance in the Ireland squad, exemplified by Everton duo Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, the Dubliner has good reason to believe 2014 can be the year the Irish team undergo a revival under O'Neill and his sidekick Roy Keane.
Although the television at his new Dublin residence in Malahide was a football-free zone for much of the festive period, he did get to catch Coleman scoring against Swansea eight days ago.
"I haven't been watching a lot of football but I did see one of the goals from Seamus -- the one he scored from 25 yards (against Swansea)," said Keane who was speaking before the Donegal man scored another cracker yesterday. "Seamus is a terrific player. And Everton are reaping the rewards. He was doing very well anyway -- but this season he's stepped up even more."
Throughout his glittering international career, goal-machine Keane has been supplied with artillery from an all-star cast of specialist right-backs such as Gary Kelly, Stephen Carr and Steve Finnan.
He reckons that the blossoming Coleman -- still only 25 -- possesses the ingredients to excel for club and country.
"For someone who is a right-back, he's got everything," Keane said of the 20-times capped Donegal man.
"You couldn't wish for someone better because he's got so much energy.
"He loves to get forward and create chances and he's very hard to beat as well."
Meanwhile, Keane has tipped his former Spurs team-mate and coach Tim Sherwood to be a long-term hit at White Hart Lane. He played alongside the newly-appointed Spurs manager for a brief spell when he first joined the club in 2002.
But it was Sherwood's work on the training ground and in the dressing-room as Harry Redknapp's coach between 2008-2011 that prompted Keane to single him out as a future gaffer.
The widespread surprise which greeted the decision of Daniel Levy to hand the rookie an 18-month deal wasn't felt by Keane.
"I think it was always going to be a natural progression for Tim to become manager," he said. "He always had it in him. I texted him last week to wish him well. I'm sure he'll do a good job with the players and the staff he has around him.
"Even after I left Spurs (in 2011), the work he did with the Academy was tremendous. I'd seen him at close-hand on many occasions when I first went back to Tottenham under Harry.
"Les (Ferdinand) is a great character to have helping him out -- he's brilliant in the dressing-room. He has Chris Ramsey with him too and the players respect them."
Keane revealed that he is nearing the end of his post-op rehabilitation.
"I've had three weeks of rehab since the operation on my Achilles (in November) and I'll be back running within 10 days," he said.
"I'll certainly keep the Achilles a lot stronger, way stronger than before. I've been doing a lot of work in the swimming pool and in the gym and it feels very good. Already, I feel a huge benefit. So far, so good.
"I haven't really had much of a break over the past month. It's been nice to be home in Dublin for Christmas but I have been working.
"When I go back at the end of January, I'll be ready for training and playing. I've a lot of games in the run-up to the new season."