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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 15:57 GMT
Keane almost quit football
Man Utd claim Keane could have quit club football
Man Utd claim Keane could have quit club football
Manchester United have revealed the hip injury that forced Roy Keane to quit the Republic of Ireland almost ended his Old Trafford career.

Keane has sparked controversy in the Republic by first giving new boss Brian Kerr a commitment to return after his World Cup walk-out - then changing his mind after talks with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

It has led to accusations that Ferguson applied pressure after earlier stating he did not want Keane to resume his international career.

But United issued a statement which they insist outlines the seriousness of the injury which had plagued Keane for months before he had surgery.

An interview in the Sunday Times backed up those concerns, with Keane saying it was his fear of needing a hip replacement at "a very young age" which forced him to retire from international football.

Even so, he may still need surgery by the time he is 45 because of the extent of the damage to the scar tissue.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane were eager for Roy to return to the Republic of Ireland squad

Manchester United statement

United's statement read: "The orthopaedic surgeon said it was a serious, potentially career-threatening injury.

"With slow and very careful rehabilitation, Roy has made a good recovery from surgery.

"The possibility of retirement from the game following the surgery was discussed but Roy decided it was not the course of action he wanted to take."

Ferguson
Ferguson "eager" for international comeback

The statement claimed Kerr was fully briefed about Keane's injury situation by club doctor Mike Stone and that Ferguson was actually in favour of his captain representing his country once again.

"Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane were eager for Roy to return to the Republic of Ireland squad.

"It is self-evident that being able to give Roy periods of rest if his hip becomes a problem is likely to prolong his career. This is possible within a club situation.

"The break he gets during international games can only be of benefit to him.

"From a strictly medical viewpoint, once the decision to continue playing was taken, any way of limiting the number of games he plays is in Roy's best interests.

"It has been in no-one's interest to persuade Roy Keane to retire from international football. Based purely on medical grounds and not football issues, Roy has decided to do what is best for him and his family."

Republic of Ireland coach Brian Kerr takes charge of the national team for the first time

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