Sports Digest: Giovanni Trapattoni doesn’t want Stephen Ireland to return


“The problem is if we get a knockout price, will we have time to replace someone like Gary Hooper? Trust me, they are hard to find.

“I have spoken to Gary, I am keeping him up to date. I think he is very happy here. I think Celtic and Gary suit each other, he is a Celtic type of player, strong, great finisher, great feet and his goal record speaks for itself.”

Hooper himself is adamant he wants to stay at Celtic. He told Celtic’s official website, “I’m very happy. I’m back playing now and scored at the weekend. It was good to be back in the team

“I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m a Celtic player and very happy here, winning games for Celtic and we’re two points clear at the top of the league just now.”

Celtic’s Irish defender Darren O’Dea, meanwhile, has confirmed that he wants to turn his season long loan move to Leeds into a permanent deal before the transfer window closes.

“If something could be done in January, it certainly would appeal to me to move,” O’Dea told the Irish Independent. “I’m at the stage of my life, and career, where I need to settle.

“I have been on loan three times now -- this my third year in a row -- and with a wife and kid I want to get a permanent base.”
Keane Hungry
ROBBIE Keane wants to do a Thierry Henry on it -- and quickly get among the goals for Aston Villa after completing his two month loan deal from the LA Galaxy.

The Irish captain made his Villa debut as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday when Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan played for the visitors after his loan move from the MLS.

Henry, on loan at Arsenal from the New York Red Bulls, has made an immediate impact on his return to England with a goal against Leeds in the FA Cup, and Keane would like to follow suit with Villa ASAP.

“Can I do a Thierry Henry? I hope so. It would be great to do that,” said Keane. “It was written that he was always going to come back and score on his return to Arsenal.

“Good luck to him, he is obviously a legend at Arsenal. If I can do something like that in the six league games, and help the team, that is great.

“What impact can one player make in six games or so? Hopefully it will be a good one. I hope it works out well for both parties. I don’t think I’m running a risk, no.

“I’ve had a good career in the Premiership and scored a lot of goals. When you get older and play the amount of games I have played, you get wiser, you read the game better than you do when you were 17.

“I will be doing my utmost to help the team and make as much impact as I can in the seven weeks I am here.”
Sheppard Transfers
READING have completed the transfer of Irish under-21 striker Karl Sheppard, available on a free after his contract with Shamrock Rovers expired in December.

Sheppard has followed several current Ireland internationals to Reading and said, “It was massive, seeing the likes of Kevin Doyle and Shane Long come over and do well, and Noel and Stephen Hunt as well, it’s a good thing.

“The history of bringing good Irish players through is something that intrigued me coming here. There was interest from a few other Championship clubs as well but once I heard that Reading were in, there was only one club for me.

“I’m buzzing for it, I can’t wait. It’s been a month since my last game so getting fitness is obviously something that I need to do and then hopefully I can break into the team.”
Busy Kenny
NEW Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny has wasted no time signing players ahead of his first season in charge of the League of Ireland champions.

Defender Graham Gartland has returned home from St. Johnstone in Scotland while Killian Brennan has arrived from Bohs and striker Daryl Kavanagh from St. Pat’s.
Winger Billy Dennehy has agreed to stay with the Hoops and has signed a new contract.

Kenny will be assisted in Tallaght by former Newcastle, Hibernian and Dunfermline player Stephen Glass while Colin Hawkins joins the club as a player-coach.  Former Hoops player Stephen O’Brien returns as goalkeeping coach.