Keane may feature for Ireland

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The Independent Football

Captain Robbie Keane could make a surprise appearance for the Republic of Ireland tonight in their glamour friendly against Brazil at the Emirates Stadium.

The Tottenham striker, who is on loan at Celtic, pulled out of the squad on Sunday after aggravating a knee problem in the Old Firm derby.

But he underwent a further medical examination last night and was given the green light to rejoin Giovanni Trapattoni's men.

The Italian welcomed Keane's return and must now decide whether to start with the Republic's record scorer or stick with the forward partnership of Leon Best and Kevin Doyle he named yesterday.

Keane is looking for his 96th cap but one player hoping for his first is 19-year-old Wigan midfielder James McCarthy.

Trapattoni believes the youngster can one day have the world at his feet - but has called for patience to allow his natural talent to develop.

McCarthy - who was born and raised in Glasgow but represented Ireland at youth levels, qualifying through his grandfather - is being tipped as one of the country's most promising talents.

"McCarthy can play behind the strikers, sometimes left or sometimes on the right," the experienced Italian coach said.

"James is a good young player and, in the future, his manager can decide which position is better for him. At the moment, he is still searching for his position.

"In Italy it is the same as Ireland - where there is a young player with big potential, everybody has great expectation.

"Only Pele, (Diego) Maradona and (Johan) Cruyff were stars at 19 - everyone must grow and develop, with personality, slowly, slowly, step by step."

The Irish controversially missed out on a place at the World Cup finals following a play-off defeat by France, where Thierry Henry handled the ball in the lead-up to their winning goal.

So, rather than preparing for a summer trip to South Africa, the Italian coach instead will turn his attentions towards the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championships.

Trapattoni, though, is not one to dwell on what might have been.

The 70-year-old former Juventus, Inter Milan and Italy coach declared: "I have a habit, whether I won anything - the title or the Champions League - my motto is to charge up, continue and start again, to forget and move forwards, whether I have won or lost.

"I always repeat to myself that football can give you happiness for a win, disappointment over a loss - but the main thing is it always gives you another opportunity to move forwards."

Trapattoni is expecting a tough examination of his squad tonight.

The Brazil game is the first of four warm-up matches ahead of the competitive action, which resumes in the autumn when Ireland will prepare to face Russia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra.

"It will be important for us to play with the same mentality and performance as we did against France but we will need more attention because Brazil are a great team - every player can score a goal, they have so many creative and technical players," Trapattoni added.