Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keane backs Given for Premiership return

Robbie Keane expects his Ireland team-mate Shay Given to be back playing Premiership football next season.

Manchester City goalkeeper Given has endured a frustrating year at Eastlands after losing his place in the team to Joe Hart.

The 34-year-old Donegal born goal stopper is expected to move on in the summer and Keane has underlined the qualities the former Newcastle goalkeeper offers.

The pair are currently together on international duty preparing to face Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup on Sunday and Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier next week.

Tottenham striker Keane, who himself could be looking for a new club this summer, said: “I still feel he is the best ‘keeper in the Premier League.

“I’m biased because I have worked with Shay and he is a good friend but, not only that, he is a top-class goalkeeper. It has been a frustrating season for him and he has come out and said that.

“But I am sure in the summer, after getting these games behind him, he’ll look forward to a break and he’ll certainly get a club for next season, no doubt about that.

“Whoever does buy him would be getting a world-class goalkeeper and someone who is great to have around the dressing room as well.”

Keane has had a disappointing year himself after falling down the pecking order at Spurs and then suffering injuries during his loan spell with West Ham.

He feels both he and Given are happy to be away with their country this week to enjoy some time on the field.

The 30-year-old is also closing in on a half-century of international goals having taken his tally to 48 with a double strike in Tuesday’s 5-0 thrashing of Nigel Worthington's IFA side in Dublin.

Keane said: “For those who haven’t played a lot of games, they probably want to play in all the games to get their fitness and sharpness.

“Those that have played a lot are probably happy playing just one this week.”

Ireland also have another game this summer with the qualifier in Macedonia on June 4th followed by a friendly against Italy three days later.

The build-up in their training camp was overshadowed earlier in the week by the absences of Wigan’s James McCarthy and Stoke pair Jon Walters and Marc Wilson.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni said the FAI had received no explanation for their non-appearance but Wigan insisted they had informed them that McCarthy had an ankle injury.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has now said similar concerning Walters, telling the Stoke Sentinel: “Jon picked up a shoulder injury against Wigan last Sunday.

“He said he was willing to go over to Ireland to have it tested there, but the doctor got back to him to say not to bother coming over. So I know for a fact Jon is covered and he had got permission.”

Pulis did not comment on Wilson but the FAI now understand he has an ankle injury and it appears the underlying problem amid the fiasco has concerned communication.

Preston defender Sean St Ledger has been ruled out of the remaining internationals with a knee injury but Darren O’Dea is winning his battle for fitness after an ankle problem.