Captain Keane ready for relegation battle

LONDON - Robbie Keane could not be happier after swapping a bit-part role in Liverpool's title challenge to become Tottenham Hotspur's captain in their fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The Ireland striker spent six frustrating months at Anfield where his dream 19 million pounds ($28 million) move from Tottenham last July came to an abrupt halt on Monday after just 28 appearances, many of them as substitute.

Should Liverpool win the title Keane would get a medal, but now his only thoughts are steering the club he scored more than 100 goals for in his first six-year stint up the table, starting against bitter rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

"I'm training with a smile on my face again," Keane, who did not even make the Liverpool squad for a recent derby against Everton, told a news conference on Friday.

"I did everything I had to do (at Liverpool), did everything possible to play but sometimes the manager just doesn't fancy you, simple as that.

"But I don't regret anything I do in football and I'm a Tottenham player now. Tottenham is a club that's close to my heart and I'm really looking forward to going out there and putting that jersey on.

"The reality is we are in a relegation battle and it's our responsibility to get ourselves out. It's clear to see the lads have been low on confidence but it's up to me to get the troops going and get this club back where it should be."

Keane was diplomatic when talking about his failure to make an impression at Liverpool but finding himself omitted from the squad by manager Rafael Benitez clearly hurt.

"Things happen for a reason. It didn't work out for me and now I'm back with a fantastic club and a fantastic manager who believes in his players," he said.

"It was never easy being out of the team. I love playing but I didn't play as often as I wanted.

"It was difficult to take not being in the squad because I've never been left out of a squad since I started playing when I was 17. If I had been a bad egg around the place I could have understood it."

Tottenham are just one point above the relegation zone and could find themselves in the bottom three by the time they host Arsenal on Sunday.

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