Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane will attend Middlesbrough’s Championship fixture against Charlton Athletic on Saturday at the Riverside Stadium.
Keane will have a watchful eye on Shay Given, who has helped the north-western club steadily climb the table since joining on loan from Aston Villa in November, picking up 17 points from nine matches. Aitor Karanka’s side are now in 13th
Given retired from international football after Euro 2012 when a then record caps haul of 125. However, he lost his place in the Villa first team to American goalkeeper Brad Guzan after just two Premier League games of the 2012/13 season.
And although the Lifford native, who is now 37, appeared in a handful of cup games for Villa, it’s only since he went to Middlesbrough he has enjoyed a decent spell between the posts.
Given, whose initial two-month loan has since been extended till February 28, made it known last year that he would be open to a return to international football but was overlooked by former Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
New manager Martin O’Neill and assistant Keane came into the job in November although outgoing caretaker Noel King had picked the squad for two friendly internationals but resisted a call-up the former Newcastle United and Manchester City netminder.
Millwall’s David Forde played in the 0-0 draw with Poland in Poznan and Sunderland’s Keiren Westwood started the new management team’s first match - the 3-0 win over Latvia at the Aviva Stadium.
Westwood, who is also out of contract in the summer, was expected to be out for the rest of the season with the shoulder injury which has sidelined him since November.
But Sunderland manager Gus Poyet revealed that the diagnosis on Westwood is better than expected after the 29-year-old underwent an operation.
“He has had the operation. Everything went all right, he is fine, so he starts his recovery next week,” Poyet said. “It’s difficult to put a time on it because in the end, it was better than we thought. Initially when they went in and they checked, it was not as bad as they thought, so it probably be shorter, but it’s difficult to say a time.”
Whether Westwood would be available for selection for Ireland’s next friendly - against Serbia in Dublin on March 5 - is unclear but Given could certainly give Kean and O’Neill food for thought should he continue his fine form against Charlton.