Keane enjoying football again
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Robbie Keane has rediscovered his hunger as he prepares to return to Tottenham and fight for a role in the club's UEFA Champions League adventure.

The Republic of Ireland skipper will lead his country out for their friendly clash with Paraguay in Dublin tomorrow night having rekindled his love affair with the game during his loan spell at Celtic during the second half of the season.

The 29-year-old admitted the confidence which had seeped away during his difficult spell at Liverpool and then after an initial flurry back at White Hart Lane has returned, and he is ready to put it to good use next season.

Keane said: "I just think I was maybe in a little bit of a rut at Liverpool and going back to Tottenham. I did well when I went back first and then did well at the start of the season, and then I just didn't have that hunger that I had and I think I maybe needed to go away to get that back.

"I certainly got that back at Celtic. It certainly got me back on track and really enjoying my football again. For me, it is just about playing games. I have got that back now and it's up to me now to go back to Tottenham and get myself in that team and stay in that team if I get that opportunity.

"As a player, you lose confidence sometimes and I lost confidence maybe a small bit. But it is important that you try to get that back as soon as possible, and maybe going to Celtic was the best thing that happened to me."

It's up to me now to go back to Tottenham and get myself in that team and stay in that team if I get that opportunity
Robbie Keane, Tottenham Hotspur forward

Now in his second spell at Tottenham, Keane secured a temporary switch to Parkhead after struggling to command a regular place in the starting line-up.

He said: "I am not one of these people who like to sit on the bench and pick up their money and be happy with that. I know players over the years who have been quite happy to do that, and I could never get my head around that.

"That's why I can fully respect Liam Lawrence in wanting to move on because he wants to play football. As a kid, you don't dream of playing bits and bobs of games, you want to play every game.

"As a player, that's where you get your sharpness and your fitness. I don't like to train every day of the week and then come Saturday, not play. I have always been like that."

Keane's January departure for the Scottish Premier League inevitably led to speculation that he days in north London could be numbered. However, he insists he will return for pre-season training on 5 July desperate to force his way into Harry Redknapp's plans for the new campaign.

Keane said: "I am going back to Tottenham to start pre-season and to be at Tottenham unless Harry pulls me in or the chairman pulls me in and says otherwise."

In the meantime, Keane will swallow his disappointment at missing out on this summer's FIFA World Cup finals and concentrate on the business of preparing for the qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 2012, which begins in earnest with tomorrow's game and Friday's clash with Algeria.

The frontman, who also confirmed he would like to go into management when his playing days draw to a close, said: "The disappointment of not going to the World Cup will be with the players for a long time, and we have been getting questions about it for a long time.

"But as players, it's very important you move on as soon as possible and move on to the next qualifying. We can't dwell on what happened in the past, that's gone now, we have to forget about that and move on now."