Friday, February 6, 2009

Trapattoni hails Keane's importance to the Ireland squad

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni thinks Robbie Keane's transfer-window return to Tottenham could provide a big boost to his international form.

Keane secured a 12million pound move back to White Hart Lane on Monday, just six months after joining Liverpool in an initial 19million pound switch.

The former Wolves, Coventry, Leeds and Inter Milan striker failed to settle at Anfield, mostly due to Rafa Benitez's bizarre decision-making and squad selections.

But Trapattoni is hoping the 28-year-old's return to first-team action will mean he is sharper when he joins up for international duty.

"Robbie is a player who thrives on playing regularly," Trapattoni told the Ireland website in response to questions from the country's fans.

"Going to Spurs will give him regular games. That is good for Robbie and it is good for us."

Underlining Keane's importance to the Irish cause, Trapattoni bracketed him alongside some of the finest talents he has managed during his stellar coaching career.

"In my career, I have managed players of great quality like Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek at Juventus, Nuno Gomes at Benfica and Ramon Diaz at Inter to name just a few.

"To win, you need great champions. Robbie is one in this category.

"He is a natural captain and of great importance to the whole squad."

Keane is in line to make his second debut when Spurs travel to North London rivals Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

He will then join the Ireland camp ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Georgia in Dublin on Wednesday.

Goals from Kevin Doyle and Glenn Whelan meant that Trapattoni's men returned with a 2-1 victory when the sides met in Germany in September, but the Italian is expecting to face a sterner challenge in the return fixture.

"They will be strong opposition and are not the same team we played last year in Mainz at all.

"Hector Cuper had only just taken on the job when we met last September but since then, they have improved substantially.

"I saw the match they played against Romania in November and they were a very well-organised side."

A win for Ireland would take them level on points with group leaders and world champions Italy in European qualifying group eight.

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