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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Robbie Keane to be sidelined at West Ham for month

By Frank Keogh

West Ham striker Robbie Keane
Keane last played for West Ham against Birmingham on 6 February

West Ham will be without striker Robbie Keane for at least a month as he recovers from a calf injury.

The 30-year-old is doubtful for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia in March.

Keane - on loan from Tottenham - was sidelined as West Ham beat Burnley 5-1 in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday.

Before the game, first team coach Wally Downes denied reports defender Matthew Upson would miss the rest of the season with an Achilles tendon injury.

The club say the 31-year-old Hammers captain is still being assessed and there is a possibility he could return at some stage next month.

And Downes said suggestions the centre-half, whose contract expires at the end of the season, would not play again this campaign were "absolutely untrue".

Downes told BBC Radio 5 live: "The problems with Matthew have certainly been overplayed in the media.

"He's just had a scan, the same most players have every now and again. If you scan any footballer at any time, you will find something wrong with them. The medical people are so thorough nowadays.

"I'm sure if you scanned 100 players, you would find something wrong with each and every one of them. It's just what level they can play on with. Matthew has a bit of tendinitis in his Achilles. Hopefully, it won't be a problem and he will be back soon."

Keane's absence is a blow for West Ham, who are second from bottom in the Premier League and battling to avoid relegation.

The Dubliner has scored 45 goals in 104 appearances for the Republic of Ireland, who face Macedonia on 26 March and then Uruguay in a friendly on 29 March.

With an expected return in four to six weeks, Keane is likely to sit out three or four matches but West Ham will hope he is fit for the home game against Manchester United on 2 April.

He was signed on loan from Tottenham, with the option of an extended deal if the Hammers stay up, and scored on his debut in a 3-1 win at Blackpool before being substituted after 75 minutes in the home defeat by Birmingham on 6 February.

West Ham do have several attacking options, however, including new signing Demba Ba, Carlton Cole, Frederic Piquionne, Victor Obinna and Freddie Sears.

They, together with Keane, have ensured the Hammers have scored at least three goals in four of their last five matches. Cole (2), Sears, debutant Thomas Hitzlsperger and defender Winston Reid found the net against Burnley.

Hitzlsperger, nicknamed Der Hammer, fired in a left-foot drive to give the London club the lead in the 23rd minute.

After the Hammers sealed a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, manager Avram Grant said the German midfielder had shown no ill effects in what was his first game since suffering a thigh injury while playing for his country in August.

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see also
West Ham 5-1 Burnley
21 Feb 11 |  FA Cup
West Ham v Burnley as it happened
21 Feb 11 |  Football
Keane has high hopes at West Ham
01 Feb 11 |  West Ham
West Ham sign Senegal striker Ba
28 Jan 11 |  West Ham

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