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Robbie Keane confident over fitness and West Ham survival chances

Robbie Keane confident over fitness and West Ham survival chancesRobbie Keane said he is frustrated that his loan move to West Ham United has been blighted by injury but the striker is now looking forward to his future at the club and believes that relegation will be avoided this season.

Keane, who will play for the Republic of Ireland against Macedonia on Saturday in an Euro 2012 qualifier, scored against Blackpool on his debut for West Ham but then injured a calf in the following game, against Birmingham City in early February.

This ruled him out until a fortnight ago when he returned to action as a substitute in West Ham's 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Stoke City and Keane said: "I'm looking forward to my future at West Ham. It's obviously been a little bit frustrating. I came back and unfortunately I got injured in my second game which was disappointing, but luckily enough I'm back fit now and I played 20 minutes against Stoke and 65 minutes in the reserves.

"The international games have come at a nice time for me. I'm looking forward to playing two games and hopefully getting myself back in the mix again."

West Ham host Manchester United when the Premier League resumes on Saturday week and the 30-year-old believes they can get something out of the game against the leaders. "If you look at the last few games – obviously at Stoke in the FA Cup wasn't the result we wanted – in the Premier League we are starting to hit form at the right time, so we're certainly in good shape," he said of a run in which Avram Grant's side have taken eight points from their last four games.

"Manchester United is another tough game. Our home record is decent and we always do well against the so-called bigger teams so it's a game I'm certainly looking forward to and I'm sure the lads are too.

"Thomas Hitzlsperger coming back in during the last few games has been a massive bonus for the team. In the last few games we've played, we have got the ball down and played. We've certainly got players who can keep the ball – Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Thomas – and we have a massive threat going forward in Demba Ba, who is in magnificent form.

"Since he has come in, he has done a tremendous job. He had a couple of niggles when he came to us but he's back in the side now and has scored some important goals for the team."

Keane also had praise for Wayne Bridge, who joined on loan from Manchester City in January. "Defensively, we were absolutely solid on Saturday [in the 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur] and Wayne Bridge certainly deserved to get the man of the match award. When you think he was playing against Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale, it just goes to show how well he did play because the two of them kept chopping and changing sides because they weren't getting much joy out of him. Full credit to him."

West Ham are a point and a place above the relegation positions and Keane believes they will still be there at the close of the season. "I think, as a group of players, we certainly believe we won't get relegated," he added.

"We have to believe that after a defensive performance like that and we certainly have the players in the team who can score goals. The table is so close, so if we get a couple of back-to-back wins we're right back up there again. Our next few games are very tough and it was crucial that we got something out of Saturday's game."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jamie Jackson, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 24th March 2011 14.01 Europe/London

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