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Keane: I'm not malicious

PUBLISHED: 14:32 07 December 2007 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 September 2010

LONDON - DECEMBER 02:  Robbie Keane of Tottenham celebrates his and Tottenham's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City at White Hart Lane on December 2, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

LONDON - DECEMBER 02: Robbie Keane of Tottenham celebrates his and Tottenham's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City at White Hart Lane on December 2, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

2007 Getty Images

Recklessness or malevolence - whatever crime the referee thought he saw in Robbie Keane s challenge on Fabrice Muamba against Birmingham last Sunday, the Irishman is adamant he should have been found not guilty by the FA. Keane expressed

By Jonny Weeks

Recklessness or malevolence - whatever crime the referee thought he saw in Robbie Keane's challenge on Fabrice Muamba against Birmingham last Sunday, the Irishman is adamant he should have been found not guilty by the FA.

Keane expressed his utter bemusement to the Ham&High after being red-carded for an innocuous 68th minute tackle as Spurs lost 3-2 at home to the Blues and says the consequent three-match domestic suspension he has received is devastating for himself and the team.

It was only the second dismissal of his career, and Keane clearly resents any suggestion that he is a dirty player.

"I'm disappointed because anyone who knows me and has seen me playing over the years knows I'm not a malicious player. I never go in to hurt anyone," he said.

"The two of us went in for the ball and the two us got some of the ball, and it's as simple as that.

"The ref just put the red card up and that was it. But you can't complain too much because no matter what I say nothing is going to change it."

Before making his decision, the referee, Phil Dowd, appeared to talk to the fourth official on the sidelines, though any accusation he asked for help has been refuted.

Spurs launched an appeal against the verdict, which replays suggested was harsh on the striker, but the ruling was upheld by an FA panel on Tuesday.

Spurs will now be without their vice-captain for the coming league fixtures against Manchester City and Portsmouth, as well as the Man City match in the Carling Cup.

"For me, who loves playing football, to have games taken away from me is a little bit of a killer," he said.

"To miss three games is disappointing - even to have 20 minutes taken away from me against Birmingham was hard enough.

"If it was a bad tackle I'd like to think I'd hold my hands up. But in this situation it certainly wasn't a red card."

Keane has bagged 12 goals in 22 games this term and is perhaps the one Spurs player whose form has matched that of last season.

Playing behind Dimnitar Berbatov and Darren Bent in a triangular attacking formation on Sunday, his confidence and shrewd positional sense enabled him to snare two goals - the first which he sent into the top corner from the penalty spot and the second when he squeezed the ball home at the near post from Tom Huddlestone's exquisite chip.

Yet, despite his own success, Keane says misfortune is costing Tottenham dearly.

"The bad luck against Birmingham just sums our season up. One minute you're up and the next minute you're down," he said.

"We need to put that straight in the next few games, but the good thing about football is there's always another game.

"We need to get back to the way we were playing and the solidness of the team. We had that on a lot of occasions against Birmingham - but with the last goal (a 30-yard screamer) there's not much you can do, you just have to hold your hands up and give the fella credit."

Keane believes Spurs have the quality within their squad to progress up the league ladder, even when faced with three top-six sides in succession.

In particular, young midefielder Tom Huddlestone has caught his eye with his effectiveness as a substitute in the past two matches.

"We know what he can do, his passing is second to none, and for my second goal on Sunday it was absolutely fantastic - that's what he can bring to the team," said Keane.

"Full credit to him, the last couple of games he's done ever so well.

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