Football: Keane has no regrets despite long lay-off

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The Independent Online
Roy Keane's season ended when the Manchester United captain tore knee ligaments attempting a typically robust tackle.

Having to sit out United's Champions' League campaign and World Cup action with the Republic of Ireland is a bleak prospect, but, as Nick Duxbury reveals, the inspirational midfielder has no intentions of changing his all-action style.

It was a needless challenge, but Roy Keane made it anyway and must now live with the consequences. Leeds' Alf-Inge Haland had the ball, United were losing 1-0 and Keane wanted it back. He was not prepared to wait and it cost him dear when his studs caught in the Elland Road turf and the knee buckled under him.

But the United midfielder, who will miss out on United's quest for the European Cup and the Republic's bid to reach next summer's World Cup finals in France, regrets nothing.

"People are going to say `if only he hadn't played on Saturday, if only he hadn't signed for United, if only he hadn't made the run forward, whatever," he said.

"I was going for the ball and the player came across me. After that I just felt my knee go, something snapped in my leg. The reality is that I have got the injury and I have got to get on with it."

Keane was seen as the perfect candidate for the United captaincy when Eric Cantona quit last summer. He leads from the front with the style that has prompted manager Alex Ferguson to label him indispensable.

Patience certainly is not one of the Irishman's virtues, but he understands now that he will have to curb his impetuosity in the months ahead and call on the instinct that makes him rise to the sternest of challenges.

"The injury is quite serious and I'll be out for a while, but I've just got to look to the future," Keane said, who had the scale of the damage diagnosed during an exploratory operation on Monday and will go under the surgeon's knife again to repair the cruciate damage in about four week's time.

"You don't know what to think knowing that you will be out for the rest of the season, you have just got to put your head down and get on with it.

"I will build my leg up for the next few weeks before I have the operation and then I'm in the hands of our physio David Fevre."

At least Keane's spirits were lifted by United's 3-2 Champions' League victory over Juventus on Wednesday night.

He watched the match on television at his Cheshire home, and said: "It's been a week to forget really for me personally, but fortunately the lads had a good result against Juventus which cushioned the blow a little bit.

"Hopefully, the team will carry on winning. We had a good result on Wednesday and a few more of those would be a nice tonic. I would love to have been out there on Wednesday. It wasn't to be, but I thought 3-2 flattered Juventus. I thought we were on top a lot more than the result showed and a few more results like that will speed up my recovery."

The 37-year-old former United defender, Paul McGrath, has been given a one-year contract by Sheffield United following a string of impressive displays since moving from Derby County.