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Trapattoni: Keane will be ready

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is confident skipper Robbie Keane will be ready to lead his country into Euro 2012 battle after jetting in from America.

The LA Galaxy striker is due to arrive in Dublin on Tuesday to meet up with the rest of the squad ahead of Friday night's Group B clash with Slovakia at the Aviva Stadium and next Tuesday's potentially decisive trip to Russia.

Trapattoni said: "I spoke with him and he went with enthusiasm. He told me he was happy. He wished also to be with the Irish team and he will be with us this week. I am sure also now after one day's rest he can play despite the long flight."

Keane, 31, has scored 51 goals in 109 senior appearances for Ireland and represents Trapattoni's most potent weapon as the Italian attempts to guide Ireland to the finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup in the Far East.

But the Italian has no fears that the trans-Atlantic commute will affect the striker, who assured him of his commitment to international football as he headed into Major League Soccer.

Keane scored on his debut for the Galaxy in a 2-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes on August 20, and also started against Costa Rican champions Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday as his side ran out victors by the same score.

While the much-travelled frontman has become something of a talisman for his country over the years, he now enjoys a measure of support from a new generation of Irish strikers.

Kevin Doyle has established himself as Keane's main foil, but the emergence of Shane Long and new West Brom team-mate Simon Cox as genuine options has given Trapattoni real choice.

The manager said: "It's important to have these options. In the 90 minutes, we can start and then change.

"It's very important to choose every option."


From Belfast Telegraph