Former Liverpool and Ireland defender Steve Staunton is adamant Robbie Keane can forge a strong strike partnership with Jermain Defoe at Tottenham, despite the pair having failed to hit it off in the past.
Keane joined Defoe in returning to White Hart Lane during the winter transfer window, but Staunton - who Keane played under internationaly for the Republic of Ireland - has played down suggestions the two strikers will be unable to work together.
“That’s rubbish," he said. "Robbie Keane can play with any centre forward in the world. He can play as the top striker on his own, or he can play off the top striker. Robbie Keane is a footballer. Jermain Defoe is an out and out striker. They can play together.”
Staunton stopped short of criticising Rafael Benitez for not providing Keane with a prolonged run in the Liverpool side during his six-month stay on Merseyside, but believes the former Wolves and Leeds marksman was probably not best suited to the Spaniard’s tactics. “Looking from the outside Robbie’s a top player who went for a lot of money and he wasn’t given a lot of game time to prove himself," he said. "Who knows what went on in training, but I think Rafa (Benitez) has his own system and Robbie obviously didn’t fit into it.
“He was not given enough time. He’s a confident boy, but if you’re not playing or scoring, as a striker you lose your confidence. He’s like anybody else – if you’re not playing you get frustrated. Looking from the outside, this certainly seemed like it was the case.” And Staunton believes Keane will now benefit from more regular first team action back at White Hart Lane.
“I think it’s great news," he said. "Obviously he’s going to get more game time at Tottenham, a lot more football, which he has been lacking over the last six months.
“It [his move to Liverpool] didn’t go right. Whatever went on up there, no one knows, only Robbie and Rafa. “He didn’t play too many games and, like any other footballer, he got very frustrated at not playing. He feels good in himself when he’s playing and I think going back to Spurs will be a great move for him, especially with Harry (Redknapp) being there.
"From Robbie’s point of view he’s very lucky that he got a move back to Spurs and I think there’s only more to come from him.”
Steve Staunton was speaking at the HMV Football Extravaganza, which has so far raised more than £3.5 million for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy.
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