Robbie Keane is confident he will resume his Republic of Ireland partnership with Kevin Doyle.
The pair were for so long Giovanni Trapattoni’s first-choice attacking combination as the Republic came close to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and then did make it to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
However, when Keane leads his country out in Sweden on Friday night with another World Cup campaign reaching crunch-point, Wolves striker Doyle will not be there having not made the final 23 amid a loss of form and the emergence of the likes of Shane Long, Jon Walters, Simon Cox and, more recently, Conor Sammon.
Doyle has not been helped by his club’s struggles in the npower Championship, but Keane is confident he will be back.
He said: “Listen, I think it would be very hard to pinpoint it to Kevin, that he’s struggling.
“I still have a lot of friends at Wolves and my best mate, Matt Murray, goes to every game there. He said the team are just struggling themselves, so it’s certainly not down to Kevin that they are struggling.
“When the team is struggling and things are not going well, if you don’t get opportunities, as a striker you are the who gets pinpointed because you should be the one who is scoring the goals.
“But certainly it is not Kevin’s fault. He’s not in the squad at the moment, but in football, it can easily turn around, as we all know.
“He scored at the weekend and he is certainly one that I wouldn’t think is not going to be playing for Ireland again. He will definitely be in the squad again, I would imagine.”
Doyle has 53 senior international caps to his name and 12 goals, perhaps the most important of them the late winner he scored in Kazakhstan in the opening game of the current campaign.
Asked if he had been shocked by the 29-year-old’s omission, Keane said: “Yes, I think probably everybody was.
“Kevin has done fantastically for the country since he started playing. But the manager made that decision and you have to respect him.”
Whoever gets the nod to partner LA Galaxy frontman Keane in Stockholm – Long appears to be the current favourite – he will find himself running out alongside a man who feels rejuvenated by the break he was told to take during the MLS close season as he battled to shake off a persistent Achilles problem.
The 32-year-old said: “I was advised to take six weeks off with doing absolutely nothing, and for someone who is as hyper as me, it’s quite hard to do that.
“You want to go home and have a five-a-side with your mates or something like that. It was really tough.
“But I have a good programme that I’m doing with the physios over there which is maintaining it, so at the moment, it feels good.”