MICK'S KEANE ON HIS SPECIAL K; McCarthy Turns to Roy and Rob to Save His Job

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MICK McCARTHY has turned to a diet of Special K in an effort to save his career from going snap, crackle and pop!

Fit again Roy Keane and Wolves teenage hitman Robbie Keane are the men McCarthy hopes will save his bacon.

Despite his insistence that he doesn't fear for his future, deep down the Irish boss must know that his survival hinges on upsetting the odds against either Croatia or Yugoslavia.

Which is why the return to fitness of the inspirational Roy and the continued progress of the precocious Robbie are so important.

"It is important to have Roy back. Before he got injured he was being talked about as one of the best players in Europe, if not in the world," says McCarthy of the combative Old Trafford favourite.

"We don't have many players we can talk about in those sort of terms. So it is lovely to have him."

Keane's absence was a crushing blow to McCarthy in last autumn's World Cup play-off with Belgium - especially after his two goal blast against Iceland just before he tore his knee ligaments.

"Roy had been outstanding just before the injury. His performances were great.

"His confidence is growing with each game he plays. Returning to international football will be another step for him."

Keane's ultra-competitive style makes him a natural leader and means McCarthy is almost certain to follow in Alex Ferguson's footsteps by handing the pounds 15m rated Corkman the captain's armband.

Significantly the always secretive McCarthy didn't rule out Keane taking over from Andy Townsend, saying simply: "I won't tell you until I've told the squad."

The pace of Robbie Keane's progress has been such that it would be no surprise to see him overtake an F1 car!

An international debut...outshining Gabriel Batistuta...a price tag of pounds 5m and climbing...man of the match against Mexico...a European Under- 18 winner's medal...three goals already this season.

McCarthy can hardly contain himself when talk turns to the enormously gifted and hugely confident Tallaght waif.

"Everything that was said about Robbie after the Mexican and Argentinian games stands. He did everything in those two games bar score. He is outstanding.

"Robbie has carried on from there. Everybody is extolling his virtues. Premiership clubs are watching him.

"We have never had too many options at centre-forward. But Robbie has certainly changed that."

Wolves have toyed with Keane in a role behind the front two. But McCarthy wants his young jewel to sparkle at the tip of his attack.

"I see him as a striker, though he has the pace to get in the box when playing behind the front men in a 3-5-2.

"With his ability to finish, I really fancy him up front. I like the idea of him playing alongside a big lad."

Which makes the news about Niall Quinn all the more alarming. The 6'4" giant, who has twice recovered from career threatening ligament injuries, is now suffering from back spasms.

He has missed Sunderland's last two games, but was reasonably optimistic when speaking to McCarthy on Tuesday night. …