Owen Coyle – Keane still Ireland’s main man

Coyle gives backing to Robbie Keane

Coyle gives backing to Robbie Keane

Former Republic of Ireland striker Owen Coyle believes Robbie Keane still has plenty to offer despite his latest less than convincing display in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Poland at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland legend Johnny Giles was among those who called for Keane to be replaced by Shane Long for Ireland’s next qualifier, after he saw the Southampton forward come off the bench to salvage a late draw for O’Neill’s men in their Group D showdown with the Poles.

Yet Houston Dynamo coach Coyle, who saw Keane score against his side for LA Galaxy earlier this month, is convinced Ireland’s veteran all-time record scorer is still a threat at the highest level.

While Keane’s record breaking international career appeared to be edging towards a conclusion when he was dropped by boss Martin O’Neill for the crunch qualifier with Scotland in November, Coyle insists the 34-year-old will silence his doubters by the end of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

“Robbie Keane is an icon of Irish football and having him in their team gives then a presence that they lack when he is absent,” Coyle told the Sunday World.

“Not only has he been a fantastic striker for Ireland for many years, he has also been a great ambassador for the country and his contribution to the national team may only be fully appreciated when he is finish playing.

“Maybe they felt the away game in Scotland was not suited to Robbie, but he still has a hell of a lot to offer and just because he is playing in American now, that is no reason to write him off.

“I’m working in MLS now and the standard is on the rise, attendances are on the rise and the interest in the sport out here is exploding.

"This is a good place to be at the moment, so the idea that playing in America should affect Robbie’s international career is nonsense.”

Scottish-born Coyle admits his loyalties are somewhat divided in a Euro 2016 qualifying pool featuring the nation of his birth and the country he played international football for, but he is hoping for smiles to be etched on all faces when the final ball is kicked.  

“It is a toughest group in the qualifying process by a distance, but Ireland under Martin and Scotland under Gordon (Strachan) have every chance to qualify,” he adds.

“Both teams being in the Euro 2016 finals would be my dream scenario and hopefully that is how it works out.”

Watch Major League Soccer exclusively on Sky Sports, including Robbie Keane’s exploits at LA Galaxy and new arrivals Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Kevin Doyle from July 1st.

WATCH – Gareth Bale the basketball master

Bale turns his hand to basketball

Bale turns his hand to basketball

Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale proved he was a free-kick master for Wales in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday – and now it seems he has mastered the art of basketball.

Bale scored twice as Wales edged closer to the Euro 2014 finals with a 3-0 win in Israel and even though he has not enjoyed his best season at Real Madrid, the smiles were etched onto his face as he took to the basketball court.

The Welshman posted a Twitter clip of himself volleying a football into a basketball hoop following NBA London in January and he was subsequently invited to try the famous half-court challenge by NBA UK and he duly accepted.

As tends to be the way with these annoying talented sportsmen, it turns out Bale is a basketball genius as well, as he showed in these clips.

Have a look at my @NBAUK#HalfCourt challenge!! Luka​ and @LewisHamilton​ you're up! https://t.co/MfdCVTERSw

— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) March 31, 2015

Gareth Bale to Manchester United this summer? Check out our latest story here.

Terry has a new Chelsea deal but are Zouma and Varane the future?

ESPN FC's Ross Dyer says John Terry re-upping for one more year is crucial pillar for Jose Mourinho to continue his pursuit of the Champions League crown.

Last week's announcement that John Terry had signed a new one-year contract was welcomed by Chelsea supporters.
Despite being 34 and at the veteran stage of his career, the man they refer to as "Captain, Leader, Legend" has been playing some of the best football of his career this season, featuring in every Premier League game so far.


- Player of the Year: Hazard by a landslide
- Hazard: Prem has made me better
- Nalapat: Chelsea support surges in Asia
- Worrall: Terry can win more trophies
- Lythell: Cech exit must be handled properly
- Mourinho phone call inspired Terry revival
- Sources: De Bruyne keen on Chelsea return

Terry has had a hugely influential role in Jose Mourinho's bid to bring the title back to Chelsea but he cannot keep playing forever.
At the start of the campaign,…

Dani Alves deals with questions by singing them away

Strange as it may seem, we here at Toe Poke aren't constantly badgered by hordes of reporters camped out on our doorstep day and night desperate for quotes and photos but we can image that kind of thing gets very old, very quickly.
Dani Alves, in his infinite wisdom, seems to have devised a foolproof method of dealing with such relentless hassle.


- Not your typical pitch invader
- Ronaldo most popular … on EARTH
- Rooney's KO celebration
- Ujah sorry for celebrating with goat
- Goalkeeper's dodgy acting
- Kamara's retro celebration
- Boruc's dance challenge

Finding himself being harangued by a clucking gaggle of media bods while attempting to make his way through the airport on Monday, Alves first ignored…

Chris Smalling has survived at Manchester United and is set to stay

The ESPN FC crew break down Manchester United's chances of finishing in a top-four spot in the Premier League.

You would have been hard pressed to find many people defending Chris Smalling after his sending off in Manchester United's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in November.
The centre-back had received the second of two inexplicably careless yellow cards and at that point his trudge from the field seemed as if it would take him all the way out of the club this summer.


- Transfer Talk: Di Maria to PSG for £60m?
- Depay agent: No United talks yet
- Payne: United must spend more wisely
- Mitten: Carrick remains key
- Patterson: United better off without Van Persie
- Okwonga: Fellaini remains the man for LVG
- Recap: Heroes in win at Anfield
- Falcao: Goals have boosted my confidence

But here's the thing — Smalling is actually quite good. He is good enough to be linked with Arsenal and for some United supporters to…

Southampton hero Matt Le Tissier to go on Countdown

Matt Le Tissier was a one-club man and is pictured here scoring against Manchester United — and those dodgy grey kits — in 1996.

Hit British television quiz game "Countdown" has Matt Le Tissier's number — he's set for an appearance on the show.
The Southampton legend, who won eight caps for England, has already appeared on the show as a guest in "Dictionary Corner" and once solved a maths puzzle that both contestants and expert Rachel Riley couldn't get.
Now Le Tiss has bagged a spot as a contestant and he shared the news on Twitter.

Passed my contestant audition for @C4Countdown . Be filming in autumn ��…