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Thursday, February 23, 2012
GALAXY: Aston Villa for Keane?

By Scott French

Robbie Keane
Reports in British newspapers are hinting Robbie Keane might want to stay and not return to L.A.
Robbie Keane's six-week loan to Aston Villa ends with Saturday's game at Wigan Athletic, but Villans boss Alex McLeish sounds as if he wouldn't mind bringing back the Irishman full-time.

Keane, 31, rejoins the Galaxy following Ireland's friendly Wednesday against the Czech Republic in Dublin, but his impact with Villa -- and the enjoyment he has derived playing for the American-owned, Birmingham-based club -- has endowed speculation that he'd like to return to the English Premier League.

Keane joined the Galaxy in August and scored four goals in 11 MLS regular-season and playoff and CONCACAF Champions League matches (and four more in the three-game postseason tour of Asia and Australia). He has three goals in four EPL starts for Villa, and British tabloid The Sun reported last week that he was homesick and considering a return to England, where he has spent the vast majority of his career.

“When I go back to L.A., it could be totally different,” The Sun quoted Keane. “At this moment in time, I can't tell what will happen. It's a case of watch this space. But people have seen over the years with the clubs I've been at, how quickly I leave if I don't think I fit in.”

McLeish was asked if he'd consider bringing Keane back in the summer transfer window.

“I don’t know,” he replied, according to the Birmingham Mail. “We have to get through this season and then see where we are in terms of recruitment for the summer. ... I think Robbie’s had a good influence on the place. There’s his movement, his ability to get on the ball or lose a defender, and his appetite for getting in the box.

“I’d like to think that other players who have got their own qualities that are different from Robbie’s will see one or two of the things in his game that they can use to enhance their game as well.”

McLeish said he had no insight into Keane's thoughts about the Galaxy and the EPL.

“Has he missed the Premier League? Maybe. I don’t know,” McLeish said. “Where he is right now, there’s probably a pretty glamorous feeling about it, jetting to play in L.A. and then jetting to play over in New York and places like that. It sounds like there’s a kind of world-class connotation to that.

“But, at the same time, when he comes back here and he’s got a little bit of adulation from the Villa fans, it’s probably whetted his appetite.”

POSITIVE MARKS: Bruce Arena's take on Edson Buddle's performance against New England in Wednesday night's Desert Diamond Cup opener? Thumbs up.

Buddle, who this month rejoined the Galaxy after a year in Germany, scored from a David Beckham cross in the 3-2 defeat in Tucson, Ariz., but he missed on at least two chances he should have put away.

“He probably had six good goal-scoring opportunities tonight,” Arena told media after the match. “He was dangerous. The ball didn’t go in, but it’s really encouraging to see a striker get those kind of opportunities. He did a lot of good things tonight.”

WORTH NOTING: Former Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall, a possibility to return to the club until late last month, made his first appearance for Port Vale's reserve team in a 1-1 draw against Walsall. Birchall, 27, is playing with the fourth-tier English club, where he developed as a youth and made his professional debut 11 years ago, while looking for a bigger club. ... The Galaxy faces Real Salt Lake on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT. The game will be streamed on Major League Soccer's website.