Monday 19 February 2018

Keane's 'come and get me' hint to Celtic

Gerry McDermott

CELTIC fan Robbie Keane fuelled transfer speculation linking him with a summer move to Parkhead when he revealed his burning ambition to play for the club one day.

Minutes after realising another dream by scoring at Celtic Park to give an Ireland XI a 1-0 win over Celtic in Jackie McNamara's testimonial, Keane firmly declared his desire to wear the famous green and white hoops.

"I am a Celtic fan and I have always said that one day I would love to play here. But, at this present time, I have one year left on my contract with Spurs and I am quite happy there," he said.

"There are other clubs that have been linked with me as well and, as far as I am concerned, it is all speculation.

"I am happy at Spurs but, if the manager or chairman comes to me and says that they no longer want my services, then I will have to sit down and consider my future."

With Gordon Strachan set to take over from Martin O'Neill as Celtic manager on Wednesday, Keane left everyone in Glasgow in no doubt about his admiration for the Scotsman, who was his boss at Coventry City.

"Gordon and he is a tremendous manager - the best that I have ever worked under. He gets the best out of players tactically because he knows the game inside out, so I am sure he is going to do a tremendous job here."

Keane's last minute winner came as a result of some excellent work down the left by Gary Doherty, whose skilful cross with the outside of his right boot was clinically finished by the Spurs striker from the acutest of angles.

"It is always nice ot score a goal and to win as well, even though it was a testimonial, was important. We got a good run out with two big games coming up," added Keane.

"I think we are all quietly confident. We are looking forward to playing Israel at home because we would like to get one back on them. We deserved to win the game over there."

Keane certainly got a rousing welcome from the 52,000 fans who packed Parkhead in tribute to McNamara and, even though his 90th minute strike gave Ireland victory, his trademark cartwheel celebration was warmly greeted around the stadium.

Ireland's other Keane, Roy, was also received a warm welcome from the home fans but former Celt Liam Miller, who left the club last summer for Manchester United, was booed every time he touched the ball during his 45 minutes on the pitch.

Kerr used all 20 players at his disposal after losing Manchester United left-back John O'Shea on Saturday following the death of his grandmother.

That meant there was plenty of chopping and changing but Kerr still manageds to get in some experimentation. Doherty played at centre half and centre-forward, while Roy Keane played in central midfield before finishing the match at centre-half.

Stephen Carr played most of the game at left-back, with Steven Reid, back in the squad for the first time since April 2003, filling the right-back role for 80 minutes.

With Carr suspended for Saturday's match, and Steve Finnan and Alan Maybury both carrying injuries, there is a real possibility of the Blackburn Rovers player figuring at right-back against Israel.

"I've played there a couple of times before and I really enjoyed it. It's good to get a game in any position," said Reid. "Being back in the Irish squad has given me an extra boost - it was just great to be back in there amongst the lads again."

Kerr gave 70 minutes to Sunderland striker Stephen Elliott, who has really filled out physically over the past 12 months and proved real handful for the Celtic defence. With Ireland's striking options extremely limited, there is a real chance that Elliott could make his competitive debut over the next two matches.

Aidan McGeady, who won a Scottish Cup winners medal on Saturday, played the first half in the Celtic colours before coming on as an Irish substitute for the final 20 minutes and he underlined his undoubted promise throughout.

McGeady and Paddy McCarthy will now drop back down to the U-21s but there is a strong possibility that McGeady could be on the plane to the Faroe Islands next Monday.

Afterwards, Kerr pronounced himself happy with the outing. "The tempo in the first half could have been better but the second half was good," he said.

"We needed a match and the players were delighted to have a good blow out - a lot of them commented on that. Training is never the same as a game.

"There were a lot of positive things to come of it and we haven't got any injuries to worry about apart from Joe Murphy feeling a little dizzy after getting a bang on the head."

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