28.04.2004 at 20:00 - Stadion Zawiszy, Bydgoszcz
Alex Ferguson has been told he must get used to Roy Keane playing in friendly matches for the Republic of Ireland.Republic manager Brian Kerr stressed yesterday it would not be practical for Keane to return to the international team for the first World Cup qualifier in September, saying the Manchester United captain had to play in one or two friendlies first.
There have been suggestions Ferguson is unhappy about Keane playing in friendlies, but Kerr said the United boss had no choice but to accept it.
Kerr said: "I think Roy has made it clear to Alex that he needs to come back into the team and that he can't just come back into it for the first match in the World Cup qualifying campaign, especially with the changes we have had since Roy last played for the team.
"Obviously there is pressure, but there is pressure with every club, and United have an FA Cup final coming up.
"Roy was able to train yesterday but he didn't feel right and there was a possibility of him aggravating the injury, and it is as simple as that. It was very important for Roy and for the squad that he joined us on Sunday and it went very well.
"He told me he really enjoyed it and he was genuinely very disappointed not to be coming with us. There was no reason to it other than his own well-being and the hamstring problem he had. There may have been suggestions that there were other reasons but I can assure you that wasn't the case, and John O'Shea reiterated to me how disappointed Roy was. It went well and it is a pity Roy couldn't come, but there will be another day."
Ireland captain Kenny Cunningham also insisted Keane's return to an albeit depleted squad went well while it lasted.
"Everything went smoothly. Roy has played with the majority of the players in the squad so it wasn't a case of introducing him to everybody. He has the respect of everybody in the squad and everyone realises he can play a pivotal role in the World Cup qualifying campaign.
"That has got to be the over-riding factor qualification for the next World Cup and without a doubt Roy is going to make us stronger.