Give Keane time says Tottenham legend

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The Independent Football

Tottenham forwards' coach Les Ferdinand believes it is just a matter of time before Robbie Keane rediscovers his top form.

The Republic of Ireland captain, who last scored in the Barclays Premier League in December, has not yet found the net in two games since rejoining Spurs from Liverpool earlier this month.

Harry Redknapp's team had to rely on midfielder Aaron Lennon and defender Jonathan Woodgate for goals in last night's 2-1 win at Hull which saw Spurs move five points clear of the relegation zone.

Strike duo Keane and Darren Bent, who was replaced by Roman Pavlyuchenko after 72 minutes, struggled to cause the hosts' defence any real problems.

Keane has looked a shadow of his former self since falling out of favour with Anfield boss Rafael Benitez, appearing tentative on the ball while struggling to recreate the kind of link-up play for which he was previously renowned.

However, former Spurs frontman Ferdinand is confident the 28-year-old will soon get back to his best following a frustrating six-month stint on Merseyside.

He told PA Sport: "I think why Robbie is finding it difficult at the moment is just the fact that he hasn't been playing enough games this season.

"He was in and out of the (Liverpool) side, he had a little run when he first went there but he's been sitting on the sidelines for a long time.

"He came back against Arsenal and played very well, but you usually play that first game off adrenaline and the second, third, fourth game you get your match fitness."

With Keane and Jermain Defoe back at the Lane and Bent issuing a 'play me or lose me' warning to Spurs, much has been made of who Redknapp's first-choice strikers are.

But Ferdinand, who was brought in to help coach Tottenham's frontmen by Redknapp, believes Keane - who was handed the armband upon his return - is the first name on the teamsheet.

He said: "Lots of people say Bent and Pavlyuchenko can't play together but obviously Robbie's come back in now and been given the captaincy so it's going to be Robbie and another but it's what you want - competition for places."

Reflecting on a first away win in five, Ferdinand admitted it was a case of substance not style for a Spurs side normally renowned more for their attractive build-up play than grinding out results.

"It was never going to be the most entertaining game in the world," he said. "It was about the three points and we go home happy because we got the three points.

"We knew it was going to be a battle and for the first 45 minutes that's what we got. It was just about whether we could weather the storm and get that edge in the second half and we did that."

Redknapp looks set to send out a youthful side for Thursday's UEFA Cup second leg against Shakhtar Donetsk to give the bulk of the first team time to recover for Sunday's Carling Cup final against Manchester United, with Woodgate already a doubt after picking up a nasty head wound against the Tigers.

"I've no idea about Sunday at the moment, we've got to see how the boys recover from tonight and go from there," Ferdinand added.

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