Crunch time for Keane - but O’Connor out

THE crazy festive period, of four games in a hectic nine days, could well have a huge bearing on Roy Keane’s future at Portman Road.

THE crazy festive period, of four games in a hectic nine days, could well have a huge bearing on Roy Keane’s future at Portman Road.

But the Town boss will have to make do without Shane O’Connor, last weekend’s man-of-the-match against Leicester. The talented 20-year-old has been ruled out for six weeks after injurying his shoulder in training on Christmas Eve.

Town kick off the feast of holiday fixtures with a home game against in-form Watford this afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

In this corresponding fixture last season, Keane’s men completely bossed the game, creating enough goal-scoring chances to win half-a-dozen matches, only to be pegged back to 1-1 at the death.

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It was a match that rankled with Keane all season, not least because it was game No. 13 in Town’s 14-game failure to win during their miserable start to the last league campaign.

“It’s not necessarily a make-or-break time,” insisted Keane.

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“It’s an important period for every club, up and down the country. It can certainly shape your season.

“We had 26 goal-scoring opportunities against Watford last season, and yet we only scored one goal. Other teams don’t get 26 scoring chances in one month!” said Keane.

The Irishman would probably have liked to name an unchanged side from last Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Leicester City, a result achieved on a carpet of snow and amidst a snow blizzard.

But that will not be possible following O’Connor’s training ground injury, which came just 24 hours after keeper Brian Murphy broke his ankle in training to be ruled out for three months.

One or two other players are also hoping to recover from knocks in training.

“We have to be careful with certain players,” explained Keane.

“A lot of them won’t be able to play that many games (four in nine days), whether it be lads coming back from injury or some of our older players. We’ll certainly have to make changes in the next week or two.

“One or two of the players are carrying knocks, though I’m not going to reveal names. We have wrapped them up in cotton wool over the last few days.

“The squad will certainly come into its own after the Watford game.

“Some of our players at the moment are not physically up to playing two games in three days, so there will be more changes after the Watford game,” added Keane, with reference to the trip to Doncaster on December 28.

Keeper Marton Fulop (ankle) and striker Connor Wickham (thigh) both made a welcome return after injury against Leicester. Wickham was employed as a substitute, and the 17-year-old looks set to be on the bench again on Boxing Day.

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