Keegan sets fitness test for Fowler to regain place

Kevin Keegan has insisted that Robbie Fowler is "too important" to Manchester City just to be cast aside.

Kevin Keegan has insisted that Robbie Fowler is "too important" to Manchester City just to be cast aside.

The £6m former England striker has been left out of City's first-team squad recently since he was asked to improve his fitness by Keegan after failing to impress since his move from Leeds United in January last year.

Fowler remained behind at the Blues' Carrington training ground to continue his personal training programme as Keegan took a 17-man party down to the south coast for tomorrow's encounter with Southampton and, with the international break coming up, it will be a fortnight before he has a chance of winning his place back.

There has been plenty of speculation that the 29-year-old has played his last game for City, especially as he was fined and publicly rebuked by Keegan after storming out of Eastlands when he was substituted during the 1-0 home defeat to Everton earlier this month.

But Keegan insists that he retains the utmost confidence in Fowler and is adamant the former Liverpool star will be back.

"Robbie Fowler is too good a player, and too important to us for him not to get back into the starting line-up," Keegan said. "This is not a punishment, we just sat down with him and came up with a programme that can help him achieve the targets that will get him back to where we know he can be.

"People have to remember he had two horrific injuries before he joined us, both of which are capable of ending careers. He has not had it easy but, despite what some people might say, he is committed to the club and has good strength of character. He will come through this, I am convinced of it."

Fowler has so far scored just 13 times in 59 appearances since he moved across the Pennines from Elland Road.

Leeds are due a further £500,000 payment when the striker makes his next first-team appearance for the Blues, although there is no suggestion that the financial aspect has had any bearing on the situation.

Many believe that Fowler has not been the same player since suffering a knee injury during his Anfield days that ruled him out of almost the entire 1997-98 campaign.

In addition, just two years ago, Fowler also had to undergo hip surgery for an injury similar to the one Roy Keane admitted came close to ending his career, and he has struggled to recapture the form that saw him score 83 goals in 160 league appearances in his first four years at Liverpool.

"Robbie has set terrifically high standards and that brings with it increased expectation," Keegan said. "For most players, going three or four games without a goal is the norm, but for a striker who has achieved what he has done, it represents a crisis. You set the bar at such a level that if you don't reach it, people start to question you.

"The answers now lie between Robbie and the fitness coach, but I am convinced what we are doing now is right for the player and Manchester City. The only thing that will prove me right or wrong is when Robbie comes back and starts scoring goals again."

With Fowler staying behind, Keegan's squad for the visit to Southampton is lacking Antoine Sibierski, who has been ruled out with fractured ribs.

Claudio Reyna and Trevor Sinclair are also missing and, with Mikkel Bischoff allowed to join Wolves on loan, and the former Liverpool midfielder Bernard Diomède released from his trial period without the offer of a contract, Sun Jihai is likely to replace Sibierski in midfield following his excellent performance against Arsenal last weekend.

The Chinese full-back has struggled to establish himself in the City first-team since joining the club from Dalian Wanda in February 2002 and has started just two games so far this season. But Keegan is convinced that he can improve his consistency and confirmed he intends to extend the 27-year-old's stay at Eastlands. "His contract is up at the end of the season and I started talks with his representative earlier this week," Keegan said.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn