Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has not ruled out making a permanent move for Robbie Keane in the summer, after the Irishman impressed during his loan spell at Villa Park. Keane plays his last game for Villa against Wigan this weekend, having scored three goals in six games in his time at the club so far.
McLeish believes the signing has been a success, and added that there could be scope for a deal in the close season. He said: "Who knows? We just need to wait and see what happens between now and then."
Either way, the former Scotland manager hopes tomorrow's game will not be Keane's last appearance in the claret and blue shirt. "Robbie's been a breath of fresh air," McLeish enthused.
"He's a good leader, he's a talker, and he's a very good footballer. It's been great to have him around and, hopefully, some of his influences have rubbed off on some of the younger players.
"Maybe we've forged a relationship now, and I hope Robbie thinks of us first if he's going to do this again next season."
Villa have only failed to score in two matches this year. However, they have conceded 14 goals in eight games since the turn of the year, without keeping a single clean sheet. And with defenders Richard Dunne and Ciaran Clark out injured for several weeks, McLeish knows rectifying this situation is a tough task. "We need to get shut-outs, there's no doubt about it," he said.
"For me, when I was a defender, it probably felt as good as the strikers did scoring the winning goal when we came off the pitch with a shut-out. The defence grow in confidence with that and they get a good understanding, the five at the back, including the goalkeeper. It's time we got back to that."
Villa's next four games are against sides in the lower half of the table, including three of the bottom four teams in the league, but McLeish is warning his players expectation works both ways in these fixtures.
"They'll be thinking the same thing," he said. "Wigan had a very good result away at Bolton, so they'll be buoyed by that. With their home advantage, they'll feel that if they can get two victories in a row, it can set them up.
"But we've got our own ideas about that, and we would like to target a maximum nine points in the next three games," he added.