Find the net, Robbie: Redknapp urges Keane to end Spurs' goal drought
04 March 2009 09:40
When Tottenham clinched the deal to bring back Robbie Keane from Liverpool
in January, Harry Redknapp indicated it would be the most important of his transfer-window signings.
Against Middlesbrough tonight, Keane must prove to his weary teammates why Redknapp went to such lengths to sign him.
Step up: Keane must start scoring for Spurs after ending his Anfield exile
Although Spurs claimed a 0-0 draw with Arsenal and a 2-1 win over Hull in Keane's first two matches since he returned, the Irishman was some way from his best in those games and still appeared affected by his nightmare six months at Anfield.
Redknapp believes Keane will be as much of an influence off the pitch as he is on it and had no hesitation in making the 28-year-old captain, in preference to Ledley King, when he arrived.
There can be no better moment for Keane to justify such faith, especially with some of Spurs' other strong personalities like King and Jermain Defoe absent through injury.
But regardless of his qualities within the squad, it is only through scoring goals and quickly that Keane can make a real impression.
No Spurs striker has found the net since Darren Bent's double in the 3-2 defeat at Bolton on 31 January.
And with both Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko looking short of form in the Carling Cup Final defeat by Manchester United, Keane must pick up the baton.
Unlike many of his colleagues, Keane should be on his game after missing Wembley, as well as the two UEFA Cup clashes against Shakhtar Donetsk, because he was cup-tied.
With Gareth Southgate's struggling side knowing a win would take them one point above Spurs, Redknapp is certainly counting on Keane.
He said: 'I am hoping that Robbie will now come in and score some goals. You are looking for your forwards to weigh in with the goals. I think Robbie is going to be vital and he is fresh.
'It is difficult to know why we have struggled for goals at home. When Defoe came in, I could see us going on a run and scoring many. We beat Stoke
3-1, Jermain scored and we played fantastically. But then he got injured. With so many teams involved in the relegation battle, this is the tightest situation at the bottom I can remember.'
Redknapp was careful to talk up Boro's prospects after the Carling Cup Final, claiming Southgate's team would have relished watching Spurs battle for 120 minutes for no reward.
But Boro have won only two away games in the League all season, so Spurs are strong favourites.
How Redknapp would have felt better if he had managed to sign Stewart Downing from Boro during the transfer window.
The Teessiders rejected a £15million bid from Spurs for the winger, with the Londoners' pursuit of Downing the source of much acrimony between the clubs.
Boro believed attempts were made to unsettle Downing, and though they held onto him, they may be powerless to stop the inform England winger from leaving this summer.
Southgate said: 'We just have to show him that he can fulfil his hopes here.'