Robson is Keane on Garvan

SIR Bobby Robson reported back to Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton today that he may have unearthed a 'new' Roy Keane.

SIR Bobby Robson reported back to Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton today that he may have unearthed a 'new' Roy Keane.

Ipswich midfielder Owen Garvan moved closer to an early senior international call after impressing former Blues manager Robson at Portman Road on Saturday, writes Elvin King.

Now consultant to new national boss Staunton, Robson flew to Dublin yesterday with good reports on Town's 18-year-old midfield sensation.

Robson took time out after Town's 2-0 victory over Leicester City to speak to Garvan and fellow candidates for the Irish side, rapidly emerging goalkeeper Shane Supple and in-form striker Alan Lee.

“It was opportune to have a look at Owen and Shane,” said Robson, who developed a string of internationals during his time in charge of Town.

“Both are promising lads and I liked what I saw. Owen worked very hard and was in the right place at the right time to score his goal.

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“If he carries on maturing he has a great future in the game.”

Ireland play Sweden in a friendly on Wednesday and although none of Town's trio of Irish players are involved, they will be in line for serious consideration for up-coming Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Garvan is already proving a midfield thoroughbred after making his debut in the opening match of this season.

And he was delighted to meet up with Sir Bobby. “He had a chat with myself, Shane and Alan,” revealed Garvan.

“It was a lovely way to finish what had been a great afternoon for me.

“He told me to keep going, to keep working hard and to keep improving.

“It was nice to have the chat and Sir Bobby said some very encouraging things.

“But I know first and foremost I have to keep my place in the Ipswich side before I can start thinking about playing for my country.

“My form is good at the moment, and I am determined to keep that going. I have to be satisfied with the way things are going.

“It is an exciting situation from my point of view.”

While Garvan looks a certainty for international stardom, Supple is also short odds to make a big impact with the Republic of Ireland and Lee's international future could well be resurrected after his move to Town.

Garvan will have a big part to play when Ipswich visit Preston on Saturday with Ricardo Fuller suspended.

“It is a massive match,” added Garvan. “If we win we will really be in the mix for a play-off place.”

Garvan said: “The first goal (against Leicester) was always going to be crucial.

“I should have scored just before. I struck the ball well enough but went for power rather than placement and their keeper did well to get a hand on the ball.

“The first-half was quite hard work; Leicester were getting a lot of men behind the ball. We had a lot of possession and it was proving frustrating that we weren't getting anything out of it.

“We knew that they would tire in the second-half and they did that and that is when we got our goals.

“Ricardo Fuller popped up with a good header. He was busy up front and physically you could see that he caused them problems.”