Football: Keane delays decision time

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ROY KEANE could delay a decision on his Manchester United future yet again. The United captain was due to announce whether he would accept United's new contract offer following today's home game against Leeds. However, Keane's lawyer and adviser, Michael Kennedy, claims the Republic of Ireland midfielder may need longer to make up his mind.

"Roy Keane is considering his position and he will make a decision in the next day or two," Kennedy said.

Keane has already delayed his announcement by 24 hours and he is clearly torn between staying at Old Trafford or leaving next summer on a highly- lucrative free transfer when his current deal expires.

United have reportedly made a fresh pounds 12million five-year contract offer to Keane, which if true could explain why he may need more time. If he does decide to go, Juventus are making the early running in the race for his signature and the Italian club's general manager, Luciano Moggi, has already spoken to Kennedy.

Fellow United and Republic of Ireland team-mate Denis Irwin believes it would be impossible to replace Keane. "We all want Roy to stay and we know what a big player he is for the club," the full-back said. "If he did leave he would be impossible to replace. I think everybody knows that."

United fans are clearly worried and they will appeal to Keane to stay during the Leeds game, as they did on Wednesday night during the 4-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.

However, despite this show of support, the spokesman for the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, Lee Hodgkiss, fears the worst. "The gut feeling among a lot of fans is that it's looking more and more pessimistic," he said. "If he was going to stay he would say so before the game. The fans will undoubtedly support him like they did on Wednesday, perhaps even more so, and they will undoubtedly give [United chairman] Martin Edwards stick."

Hodgkiss claims the fans are targeting Edwards because they feel he has not done enough to persuade Keane to stay. "If Alex Ferguson wants Roy Keane to stay and Roy Keane wants 40 grand a week, then they should give it to him," he said. "We don't think Edwards and the board are supporting the manager as much as they could."