Keane's presence lifts Villa - Given
SHAY GIVEN claims that Robbie Keane has already given his new team-mates at Aston Villa a lift simply by being at the club.
Keane (pictured) made his debut for Villa in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Everton, playing the last 10 minutes as a substitute for Stephen Warnock, and was one of seven Republic of Ireland players involved in the game (along with Given, Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark, Stephen Ireland, Shane Duffy and Darron Gibson). Given said: "It's good to link up with Robbie again. I'm delighted he's here at Villa. He's a big personality and a big-game player. He has shown in training just how good he is.
"He has given the changing room a big lift and will now give the manager a headache to get him into the team. I know Robbie well. He will want to start a few games and get his match sharpness up for what is going to be a big summer for us.
"It's good to have a strong Irish contingent at the club and it is important Robbie is in the fold because of what's coming up in the summer."
Long admits he's playing in pain
SHANE LONG admits that he's playing through the pain barrier with West Brom but has promised to be back to full fitness within weeks.
A back injury had put Long out of action for two weeks but he came off the bench to score for West Brom in Saturday's defeat to Norwich City, positive news for Giovanni Trapattoni on a weekend where Long and Newcastle United man Leon Best both scored in the Premier League while Robbie Keane made his Aston Villa debut.
However, the sight of Kevin Doyle on the bench as an unused substitute for Wolves against Tottenham is a concern.
"I'm trying to play through the pain and hopefully I will come out the right side of it in a couple of weeks," Long said.
"The problem is always there. It's constant, but it's one of those things you can play through. I'm doing the best I can to make myself available. But I'm pretty confident that in a couple of weeks I'll be back to being good as new.
"As it is, I need to do my exercises and try to get through games. Over time it will go away, I want to be out on the pitch as much as possible and try to get through games."