herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Robbie: Loan will help club and country

ROBBIE KEANE believes that his club and country will benefit from his loan spell with Aston Villa.

The Ireland captain last week said his goodbyes to the Villa players and supporters as he finished his seven-game loan spell in a 0-0 draw with Wigan.

And once tonight's international against the Czech Republic is done with, he will leave the grey skies of Ireland and return to sunny Los Angeles to resume duties with the Galaxy.

"The spell at Villa was great," said Keane, who scored three goals in those seven games for Villa.

"Keeping fit and getting games under my belt, it couldn't have worked out better. It's like anything -- you want to play, and play every week if you can, and keep yourself fit.

"Every player wants to play every Saturday or whenever it is. I have said loads of times before, I am not one of these players that likes to sit on the bench and be happy to pick up my money.

"I want to earn my money. I love waking up on a Saturday morning and getting myself ready for the game, and that's been good, certainly in the last six months," said Keane, believing that it made sense to go on loan to Villa even though it was not part of his plan to be back in England so soon after his move to the USA.

"I had a few weeks off and I didn't want to drag out a pre-season, it was a last-minute decision."

Irish scouts probe rivals

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI has sent his scouts on a spying mission across Europe tonight to check out our Euro 2012 opponents.

First up for Ireland at the finals in Poland in June is that clash with Croatia, so Trapattoni will be keen to get a report from Zagreb, where Slaven Bilic's side play Sweden tonight.

That game is a sort of homecoming for Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has a Croatian mother but, for the home side, it's all about playing for places in the Euro 2012 squad.

"The media are saying that the squad for the finals is already decided but places are up for grabs," said Bilic.

"And the game against Sweden is a good one for us as they play a style similar to Ireland."

Over in Genoa, Italy will take on the USA in a friendly game, where the front positions are a worry for Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.

Antonio Cassano, Giuseppe Rossi, Antonio Di Natale, Mario Balotelli and Pablo Osvaldo are all missing, so youngsters such as Fabio Borini (Roma) and Sebastian Giovinco (Parma) could get the nod.

And Malaga is the venue for an important friendly as Spain play Venezuela.

It's a sign of the choices afforded to Spain coach Vincente del Bosque that he can choose to leave Chelsea's €50million man Ferndando Torres (above) out of his squad for this one, where players such as Valencia's Roberto Soldado are eager to impress ahead of the European Championships.

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