Football: Why Are You So Keane to Knock Roy?; BIG MAN HEADING FOR JAPAN.(Sport)

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Byline: PAUL McGRATH INTERVIEW: Hugh O'Reilly

I just can't believe that at this stage of our World Cup preparations, some people are ready to stick the knife into Roy Keane.

I picked up the papers last Wednesday morning and there were plenty of stories moaning that he hadn't turned up at Niall Quinn's testimonial match at Sunderland the previous evening. Big deal!

I happen to know that Roy was receiving treatment for the injury which has threatened his World Cup hopes all season.

He was at Clarefontaine, the French equivalent of Lilleshall, where France's leading players received treatment. It is also the headquarters of the French youth academy.

Roy wanted to reassure himself that his troublesome hamstring wouldn't flare up again during the biggest tournament on the globe. He had obviously taken the advice of team-mates Fabien Barthez, Laurent Blanc and Mickael Silvestre to try it.

And I imagine he did most of it off his own initiative, as Manchester United were not responsible for the trip.

So he's off trying to get himself fixed in the cause of his country and what happens? People start moaning about him. It beggars belief!

People say Roy is snippy with the media. Well, reading stories like that, it's not hard to see why.

Let's get a few things straight. First and foremost, it's my opinion that we wouldn't be going to the World Cup at all if it wasn't for Roy.

Secondly, Niall Quinn and, more importantly Mick McCarthy, were informed that Roy wouldn't be along and it didn't bother them in the slightest.

So for people to say that his absence 'cast a shadow over the evening' is absolute nonsense.

With less than two weeks to go to our opening game against Cameroon on June 1, you would think that everybody in Ireland (and that includes the media) would be getting behind our skipper and giving him all the support he needs. This is not a time for negativity. …