Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane checked in at the Riverside Stadium today to see Shay Given in action for Middlesbrough - for a while.
Middlesbrough stretched their unbeaten run in the Championship to six games after grinding out a narrow win against 10-man Charlton Athletic. Emmanuel Ledesma scored the only goal when his effort bounced over keeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien on 16 minutes. Rhoys Wiggins picked up the red card for the visitors.
It is understood that Keane was casting an eye on the form of Given, who is on loan at Middlesbrough from Aston Villa until the end of February. However, Keane was spotted leaving the ground some 20 minutes from time by former Ireland and Middlesbrough striker Bernie Slavin.
He tweeted: “Roy did not stay until the end to witness Shays heroics, I had chat with him on way out 20 mins before end.”
Lifford native Given retired from international with 125 caps after Euro 2012 but stated last year - when Giovanni Trapattoni was still Ireland manager - that he would be open to the idea of a return to the fold.
The Italian resisted the call but parted company with the FAI in September and was replaced by Martin O’Neill. The Irish manager and Keane are preparing for an international friendly against Serbia in Dublin on March 5 and Kieren Westwood, who started their first match against Latvia, recently underwent shoulder surgery and faces a race against time to be fit.
“There’s no Irish players playing for Charlton, is there? Roy might be scouting for TV or something. I don’t know!,” Given said on Friday.
“The next competitive game is in September, it’s only January. A week in football is a long time so nine months is a lifetime. I’ve not spoken to Martin O’Neill, my number is not hard to get.
“If Roy is coming to watch me, then great. If he is coming to watch somebody else, then so be it. It’s too early to say at the minute what I feel about it. They will be looking for their options in March because Keiren Westwood is injured.
“I don’t know whether they want me involved or not so it’s hard for me to say yea or ney. I don’t know what the set-up is. I’ve not had a conversation. There’s no point me even commenting until Martin O’Neill has contacted me.
“I did have a conversation with Giovanni Trapattoni about playing again. He said because I was not playing for Villa, which was a valid argument, then he was looking in a different direction, which was fair enough.
“That’s why I say this September is a long time away. I could be back as third choice at Aston Villa by then. I don’t know. It’s too soon to even comment.”