Ferguson says the old 'Roy Keane is gone'

Roy Keane's role as a midfield marauder could be over, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

Roy Keane's role as a midfield marauder could be over, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

The former Republic of Ireland captain has switched to a more pivotal position in the Manchester United midfield and Ferguson claims he is not worried that Keane's swashbuckling raids could be a thing of the past.

"That Roy Keane is gone. We don't need the old Roy Keane. Not at that age, because he is never going to last.

"If you keep asking him to run from box to box you are not going to get it. He can pick his moments, he can drive forward at the right time, when the space is in front and he has someone around him. You never stop anyone doing that but you don't do it every five minutes."

Ferguson says Keane's new approach will pay dividends.

"Roy has always been a box-to-box player. He depended on running ability and power. He is obviously a tremendous player in terms of passing the ball and tackles, he is good in the air, quick to see things and read the game - but you cannot keep on doing that.

"He has simply assessed himself properly. He has to do that if he wants to play all the games. He can bring a new dimension to his career by doing what he is doing now."

Keane was switched following hip surgery in October which ruled him out for three months and the United manager says the change of position will extend what has already been an impressive career.

"I would not like to put a time cap on it. He has another three years left on his contract and I think he will get through that no problem. That would take him to 33 and any player who gets to 34 knows it's bonus time. If his hip is OK he could play until he is 36 or 37.

"Roy is realising he is more valuable playing in a sitting role and by doing that you will get more out of him. Also what he will have to start doing is organise the midfield more. Bryan Robson was terrific at that and Roy will do that," he said.

PA