Kevin Doyle believes that Robbie Keane is entitled to keep his place in the Republic of Ireland team despite his recent inactivity at club level.
The Wolves striker anticipates that the Dubliner will find a new club by Monday, and return to his usual sharpness, but reckons that nobody should get too carried away about Keane's condition after a season largely spent on the sidelines. Indeed, his regular strike partner mounted a strong defence of the 30-year-old.
“He's our record goalscorer by a stupid amount of goals, he's one of our most capped players and he's our captain,” said Doyle.
“If ever there was a player to earn the leeway of not playing for a few months and still get picked for an international team, he does.
“He turns up all the time for internationals when other players of similar stature sometimes don't.
“He has that many caps he could easily just retire but he doesn't, he just keeps going. He's a naturally a fit fella, he's not a fella who puts on weight or anything like that.
“Anyway, I think he will be moving in the next few days and playing regularly after that. I think that's nailed on.”
Doyle is looking forward to returning to the venue for the forthcoming Nations Cup meeting with Wales on February 8, and is excited by the prospect of playing alongside Seamus Coleman for the first time.
The gathering will also give him a chance to catch up with good pal Shane Long, whose form at Reading has given further weight to the calls for Keane to be dropped.
Long has been sending text messages to Doyle to talk up his goalscoring record this year in comparison to the Wexford man. “Yeah, I text him back that I remember what it was like in the Championship,” he grinned.
“Nah, I don't. I'm delighted for Longy. He has always had the ability, strength and skill and speed. It was just about getting a run of games and playing every week to show what he can do.
“If they can keep Longy there, they have every chance. I don't know if a Premier club has or hasn't come in for him, but he's been in the Premier before and scored goals for Reading so he's definitely good enough, no doubt about that. You just have to get the chance to do it.”
Doyle is conscious that he's well down the goalscoring charts this term, with two Premier League strikes to his name and three in other competitions.
“Compared to last year, I'm probably only two or three goals behind. I got nine last year. I was very happy last year because I got what I thought could be gotten out of it.
“This season, I've been happy with my overall performances but I just don't seem to be converting them into goals.”