Fitness priority for Robbie

Robbie Keane has said he will only consider a loan move to an English club in January if he feels is 100% fit.

The Ireland captain is back in Dublin with his family for Christmas and, despite intense speculation linking him with a temporary move to clubs including Aston Villa and QPR, he has revealed his main priority is to regain full fitness ahead the resumption of the MLS next year.

“I am going to rest up and get ready for next season with the Galaxy,” said Keane. “I haven’t even thought about taking up with any other teams, I have a few little niggles that I have to sort out before I even contemplate making any decisions.

“There has been a lot of speculation and a few clubs are interested but it wouldn’t be right for me to go anywhere if I wasn’t 100% fit and ready. I don’t have any major problems, just an Achilles injury, but if that isn’t right, I won’t be going anywhere.”

Of his return to his hometown from LA, the striker said: “It’s always nice to come home and see my family. It doesn’t happen too often and especially this time of the year, it’s important to be with family.

“It’s the second Christmas I have had off in the 17 years I have been playing football so it’s great to see everyone and a nice time to have off, especially with my son, who is really excited.

“I always know I’m home when you have an Irish fry and a good cup of tea! It’s the small things like that you miss when you’re away. Christmas is about coming together. It’s a great family occasion so I look forward to it.”

Looking ahead to the resumption of World Cup qualifying next year, Keane observed: “2013 is going to be a big year for Ireland in March — two very important games. They will dictate where the teams will go so we look forward to it and hopefully it’ll be a lucky year for us.

“Sweden and Austria are the two teams that are going to be around us. I didn’t see the game but I heard Sweden were very good against England but I think they are similar to us, not too many differences.

“When you look at Germany, it’s fair to say, they will win the group and it’s up to us to finish second as we always do and go into a play-off. We are still in with a shout but these two games are a make or break but we have as much chance as anyone else.”

While in Dublin, and to tie in with Three’s ‘Bringing Everyone Closer’ campaign, Ireland’s record goal-scorer yesterday met up with competition winner Rob Lee, along with his daughter Isabella (four) to surprise his friend Ciaran and his wife Elaine in Sydney, Australia with an exclusive Skype call.

Meanwhile, the nominees for the 2012 Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland flagship awards — Personality of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year — have been announced, with title-winners Sligo Rovers dominating the shortlist.

For Personality of the Year, the six nominees are split evenly between three managers and three players all of whom enjoyed memorable seasons in the Airtricity League Premier Division.

Sligo manager Ian Baraclough receives his first nomination for the award with Drogheda United boss Mick Cooke and Derry City’s Declan Devine also in the running, along with three players – Jason McGuinness, Danny Ventre and Mark Quigley – who played key roles in Sligo’s Premier Division title success.

For the Goalkeeper of the Year gong, last year’s winner Gerard Doherty is again nominated after a superb season with Derry City, while Drogheda’s Gabriel Sava and Sligo Rovers’ Gary Rogers are also in the mix.

The prestigious awards will be presented at the Airtricity/SWAI Annual Banquet in Dublin’s Conrad Hotel on Friday 11 January.

Meanwhile, last night saw Cork City’s Eanna Buckley named the SWAI’s Press Officer of the Year. Shamrock Rovers won Website ofthe Year, and Amanda O’Reilly won the Brendan McKenna Memorial award for new writing about the sport.

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