King declines to send Keane back to Galaxy before Kazakhstan game
Interim manager tells Bruce Arena his captain will be staying on after Germany encounter
Interim Republic of Ireland boss Noel King has rejected a request to release skipper Robbie Keane from his squad after Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Germany. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
While interim manager Noel King was getting on with the business of preparing his players for tomorrow night’s game in Cologne, while also rebuffing LA Galaxy’s request that Robbie Keane be allowed miss Tuesday’s meeting with Kazakhstan, the process of selecting Giovanni Trapattoni’s permanent successor was being addressed by one of the men tasked with the job.
Not that Ruud Dokter, the Football Association of Ireland’s high performance director, was giving much away, other than confirming he and Ray Houghton had already had discussions with “some” potentials candidates for the post.
‘A lot of interest’
“There’s a lot of interest in this position,” he said in Malahide after the squad’s final training session before departing for Germany. “And that’s good because Ireland is important – everybody wants to be the coach of Ireland. So, yes, we have spoken to some people, but that’s all I can say.”
“Have you been speaking Dutch to any of them?” he was asked. “That’s a smart question,” he grinned, “but: no answer.”
Timeline? “We’ll come back [to the FAI] before Christmas.”
The FAI, though, had more pressing concerns yesterday after Galaxy coach Bruce Arena requested that Keane be released following the Germany game so he could play against Montreal Impact in the MLS next Wednesday – they also asked that Landon Donovan be freed from international duty with the United States, who have already qualified for the World Cup, to play in the same fixture.
Back in May, Arena had released Keane for the friendly against England at Wembley, so he might have anticipated a reciprocal gesture.
The Galaxy website, though, quoted Keane as saying “as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to play for my country, and that’s it”, and later in the day the FAI issued a statement saying King had responded to Arena “to inform him that he has decided not to release Keane and trusts that he understands the position, having been an international manager himself.”
Ironically, after the transatlantic ding-dong, Keane is a slight doubt for the German game having sat out training yesterday after taking a kick to the ankle on Tuesday.
“The medical people are dealing with it and we will assess it as we go on. He had a precautionary scan and he is resting; we’ll see what they say,” said goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly, who was, though, hopeful the captain would be fit to play.
Keane was the only member of the squad sidelined yesterday – Joey O’Brien, Anthony Pilkington and Kevin Doyle all returning to training having missed Tuesday’s session.
While the 6-1 defeat at home to Germany a year ago will still linger painfully in the memories of the players involved that night, Kelly has somewhat happier recollections of facing the same opposition, a member of the side that won 2-0 in Hanover in a friendly before the 1994 World Cup finals.