Keane's Galaxy return provides welcome lift
ROBBIE KEANE made a surprise return to action for LA Galaxy last night to give Giovanni Trapattoni a welcome boost on a weekend when John O'Shea was struck down by injury.
The Waterford man is a serious doubt for the Euro 2012 play-off with Estonia after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring problem in Sunderland's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday.
However, Keane came through 83 minutes of LA Galaxy's MLS play-off first-leg win over New York Red Bulls, an encounter which brought the Irish skipper face to face with Thierry Henry for the first time since the infamous World Cup play-off in Paris two years ago.
Keane initially feared that he would miss the Estonian showdown with an adductor problem, but the 31-year-old has recovered ahead of schedule.
Considering it's a muscular issue, Trapattoni will be hoping that his captain wakes up this morning with no pain, yet he will be encouraged by the fact that the Dubliner appeared to be moving well before he was withdrawn.
The Irish manager will also be anxiously waiting for a bulletin from Sunderland, with O'Shea again struggling with a hamstring issue; the defender has been affected in that department over the past year.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce said afterwards that O'Shea had picked up a problem in a similar manner to an injury sustained in pre-season. The 30-year-old will have a scan today to determine the extent of the damage. With the first leg against Estonia taking place on Friday week, the narrow time-frame will be a serious worry for Trapattoni. "I'd have thought he would be a big doubt," said Bruce.
If the former Manchester United man was to miss out, then it would open the door for Fulham's Stephen Kelly. The Dubliner deputised for O'Shea in Moscow, and started the concluding group victory over Armenia on the left side of defence when Stephen Ward was suspended.
With Kevin Foley sidelined and Seamus Coleman short of top-level experience at full-back, Paul McShane is the only other recognised option.
The only plus point from the Stadium of Light encounter is that an injury to home keeper Simon Mignolet belatedly gave Keiren Westwood his Premier League debut. The understudy to Shay Given performed well, and is set for a run in the team.
There was another defensive scare yesterday when Darren O'Dea was forced off at the half-hour mark in Leeds' 1-1 draw with Cardiff, suffering from blurred vision.