Keane keeps quiet over plans for Sunderland survival

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The Independent Online

The Sunderland manager, Roy Keane, will keep his mouth shut as he attempts to drag his side away from the foot of the Premier League.

The Irishman has followed the example of his manager in his days as a Manchester United player, Sir Alex Ferguson, throughout his time at the Stadium of Light, keeping chats with players to a minimum, instead delivering advice as and when it is needed. Yesterday, he said: "When I say I don't talk to them, I talk to them, I suppose, like I talk to you lot, once a week. That's enough, isn't it?

"People thought I used to talk to Alex Ferguson every other week. I have probably spoken to him one-to-one six times in my life, but people thought we were having tea every morning together. We weren't. He wouldn't have wanted it and I certainly wouldn't have wanted it."

Keane leaves his coaches to implement his plans on the training pitch and watches from a distance, only intervening when he feels the need.

Despite his side's lowly league position – they slipped to 17th, one place clear of relegation, after the 1-1 draw between Birmingham and Newcastle on Monday – Keane is confident they can get themselves out of trouble.

They face a difficult trip to Aston Villa on Saturday as they attempt once again to end a season-long wait for a win away from the Stadium of Light. For once the club's injury problems appear to be abating, with only the midfielder Dickson Etuhu likely to be missing.

Danny Higginbotham, Ian Harte, Anthony Stokes and the transfer-listed Liam Miller, who were not included in the starting line-up for last Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Chelsea, were all in the reserve squad for last night's meeting with Everton.

Stokes was left out of the senior team last weekend because of illness, while Miller's inclusion to face Everton's second string suggests he still has a future on Wearside despite persistent lateness having prompted Keane to put him on the transfer list.

The trip to Villa Park will give Sunderland another chance to address their awful away record – they have collected three points from a possible 45 on the road to date.

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