Gary Looks Ahead

It's Keane v Breen at White Hart Lane - and the former may be happy that the latter is no culinary genius.

The Eire team mates, who shared their far east dreams together under the tutelage of Mick McCarthy, have been reunited in London following post-World Cup moves to the capital from Coventry and Leeds this summer.

Keane moved to Spurs and Robbie decided, amongst a host of suitors, that West Ham was his preferred destination after a year in the first division.

That allowed for a little dinner recently chez Gary, who says:

"He has been up for dinner since he has moved down and we are very close; I have a lot of time for Robbie and I think he is a fantastic person as well as player."

A chance, via judicious use of some untraceably hot ingredients, to affect Keane's training routine at his new club, perhaps?

Er, no, as it happens.

"I didn't cook..." says Gary.

Nonetheless, the post-prandial conversation centred on the big showdown coming up, and he says:

"Yes, I will be playing against one of my best friends in football in Robbie Keane, who will probably make his home debut, and we have had all the ribbing about who is going to do what to whom.

"I know what a good player he is, so we will have to be on our toes, and after the disappointment of Wednesday we are all itching to put it right, so what better game than another London derby?

"It will be a tough game, but hopefully if we can get everything in order, and create as many chances as we did on Wednesday, I hope we can win the game."

Gary, himself a steal on a free transfer, believes Robbie's relatively diminished transfer fee, considering the cost of previous moves - and what Harry Redknapp was prepared to pay for him when the player was in Italy - was a bargain, and he says:

"Tottenham have done fantastically well to get him, because for £7m he is a great buy; he will guarantee them four or five places higher than they would have got without him, in my opinion, and without a doubt he is a special player."

Gary's aim is to stop the cartwheeling celebrations that often follow his goals [or, more specifically, to stop the goals themselves that lead to such shenanigans] and he adds:

"I will have to try and kick him to stop those cartwheels!"

Both teams lost midweek - with news of Spurs' defeat getting the cheer of the night after the game at Upton Park, and Gary adds:

"I am sure Spurs are disappointed with losing the two goal lead at Fulham so they will be looking to put that right.

"It is always a difficult game, Tottenham, especially away, but after a game like Wednesday I wished we could have played them the next day to put things right.

"But after some hard work on the training ground hopefully we can make amends - and get the fans back onside."

Gary's weekend friendship doesn't extend just to Sunday's striking opponent, however, and he admits that his rival for a place at centre half - indeed, the man he displaced on Wednesday - is also an old mucker.

Christian Dailly, an ever present last season, was usurped by Gary for the West Brom game, and the newcomer says:

"We were friends before we came to the club and I have got a lot of respect for Christian - both as a player and a person.

"We both understand if one can't play, the other one could, so that rivalry there will keep us on our toes all season.

"But there is that with Tomas and Ian Pearce as well, so there are four people vying for two places - and it is important once you do get in, that you hold on to the shirt."

Nigel Winterburn, who knows a thing or two about north London derbies, is looking forward to a long haul in this, the last of his seasons.

With the Worthington Cup just around the corner for Premiership sides not involved in Europe, Nigel says:

"Hopefully, it will be a long season because the more games you play the further you are going in the cups - and I hope we have a good league campaign as well."