Why Robbie Keane's short-term solution could cause long-term problems at Villa

Robbie Keane has been an instant hit at Aston Villa but at what cost?

I am a big fan of Keane's for his technical ability, nose for goal and he seems a likeable, charismatic fella.

He delighted the Villa fans and boss Alex McLeish with two goals on his full debut at his former club Wolves to ensure a valuable Premier League away win.

But this is a player who is only capable contractually of playing up to seven games for Villa on his short loan from LA Galaxy - two of which have already taken place.

Financially it is only costing Villa around £400,000 which Keane has already nearly repaid with his brace at Wolves.

But is it really worth him coming to Villa for such a brief spell?

That is my genuine concern because Stephen Ireland had just hit his best-ever form for Villa when Keane arrived.

Ireland was outstanding in the second half against Everton when he was moved into the hole to operate behind main striker Darren Bent.

Yet this is precisely the same space that Keane likes to operate in as we saw at Molineux.

With Ireland injured at Wolves, Keane grabbed his chance to start and certainly proved his worth.

Ireland is now going to have a big battle to get back in the side just when his fragile confidence and mindset appeared in positive mood.

I can't really see how both Ireland and Keane can successfully fit into the same Villa side.

Sure McLeish could field them both and he may well do soon.

But it is simply no good sticking Ireland wide because, as contacts in the game have told me, the only position he is particularly comfortable and effective playing is in an advanced central role.

So while Keane's arrival at Villa is exciting and has given the whole club an undoubted lift, I fear it will be detrimental to Ireland.

And ultimately Villa should be more worried about getting Ireland playing well, not Keane, because the attacking midfielder is their asset on a full-time lucrative contract which he is yet to even remotely justify since arriving in 2010.

Keane is proving a short-term boost for Villa but what will they do when he leaves and the window is shut?

Well, the only thing McLeish can do then is work with his existing squad.

And if McLeish is not careful, Ireland's resurgence could easily have gone into reverse by then and the Scot will be back to square one with the mercurial midfielder.

So that is a legitimate concern I have after personally enjoying Ireland's recent revival.

He is so skilful on the ball and graceful when on his game it is a joy to watch.

I don't blame Big 'Eck for recruiting Keane as Ireland is an erratic character and you sadly cannot rely on the bloke it appears.

But if Keane does continue to bang in the goals, then he will be even more sorely missed in Villa's remaining games when they could well struggle without him.

Aside from Villa's tough-looking FA Cup tie at Arsenal this weekend and Keane's two previous appearances to date, Villa face QPR, Newcastle, Man City, Wigan and Blackburn in the next few weeks.

Not the hardest run of games, admittedly, but those are the matches Keane is likely to participate in even though I am sure they could have done satisfactorily enough without him.

The striker is due to return back to USA just before Villa face some much harder League games against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United and Spurs!

So I not only hope Ireland's development continues unabated but also that Villa do not become overly-reliant on Keane because otherwise they are going to miss him badly and may toil in the run-in.

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Read James Nursey's exclusive Aston Villa column every Thursday and follow @JamesNursey on Twitter

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