Robbie relishes reserves run

Robbie Keane was delighted to get another hour of match action as he scored for the reserves in a 4-2 defeat of Newcastle United.

The on-loan striker was a lively presence at the Boleyn Ground, the perfect run-out after his 25-minute substitute turn for the first team at Stoke City on Sunday. His goal saw him lash in from close range on 47 minutes, having found space to shoot in a crowded box. It was the seal on a good day's work.

Keane is ineligible to feature in this Saturday's trip to his parent club Tottenham Hotspur but will head away for two matches with the Republic of Ireland looking to continue his return to fitness after missing four Hammers games - three wins and a draw - with a thigh problem.

"[The injury] is fine," he said. "It has obviously been frustrating. You come to a new club and you want to play as soon as possible and you get injured. It is nice to get back and be able to get another 60 minutes. I am looking forward now to pushing on.

"It is always nice to score whether it is a reserve game or first team game, it is always important as a striker to score goals. That said, the most important thing for wasn't about scoring, it was about getting as many minutes as I could under my belt."

Keane could have been forgiven for wanting to sit out Tuesday's reserves match after his comeback against Stoke but the only thought was to declare himself ready to play - especially with having to sit out this coming weekend at White Hart Lane.

"Of course, I wanted to play and get as many minutes as I can under my belt. I got 25 minutes against Stoke on Sunday but my next games will be for Ireland. I will miss out on Saturday so I need to get my match fitness up for the two games coming up.

"The more games I can play now before I come back to play in the Manchester United match in a few weeks' time, obviously the better it will be for everyone and certainly me. I have 25 minutes and now 60. Hopefully I will be involved and whatever minutes I play for Ireland [in a qualifier against FYR Macedonia and a friendly with Uruguay] will help me to come back to 100 per cent match fitness for the club."

Keane was paired with 17-year-old prospect Dylan Tombides in attack, and he relished the chance to figure alongside the talented youngsters on view from both teams. "If I can help and rub off on the younger ones in any way possible, well great. They were good.

"Full credit to Newcastle as well, they did well and put on a good performance. It was a good game all round. It suited everyone."

It certainly suited Keane and he is chomping at the bit in the hope of returning to the Boleyn Ground pitch when Manchester United visit for the next home contest on Saturday 2 April.

"It would be nice but it is up to the manager. The lads have been doing tremendously well, so first of all I have to work hard to get back in the team. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later."