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Clock is ticking on Keene’s second coming

James Keene made is long-awaited Pompey comeback in the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hartlepool on Saturday

James Keene made is long-awaited Pompey comeback in the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hartlepool on Saturday

 

For James Keene, the clock is ticking down on his Pompey second coming.

But he’s determined to make the impact he was never allowed to when Harry Redknapp was Blues manager.

The 27-year-old’s loan spell from Swedish side Elfsborg is up on February 8-9.

It means he is available for the rearranged games against Notts County and Scunthorpe, as well as the visit of Colchester.

Depending on timing, he may even be able to face Bournemouth on February 9.

Keene insists it is a stay he is taking month-by-month, with the issue of possibly extending it not yet broached with his club.

The Swedish league starts on April 1 with the visit of AIK to Elfsborg, where Keene is contracted for another two years.

However, the Swedish Cup begins on March 3 – with three group-stage matches scheduled for Elfsborg before their league campaign gets under way.

The former Pompey apprentice has been out-of-favour with his parent club recently and spent part of last season loaned out to Djurgardens.

It remains to be seen whether he is part of his club’s plans.

In the meantime, he will line up against Notts County tonight knowing his Fratton Park time is running out.

He said: ‘I am not thinking that far at the minute. I’m just getting my head down and working hard to try to help as much as I can here.

‘My current loan is up February 8-9. I don’t know immediately if that will be extended.

‘The Swedish season starts at the very start of April. Will I be staying? I don’t know – we haven’t got that far in talks yet, we’re just taking it month-to-month at the minute.

‘I’m enjoying being back. When I was last here I would have liked a few more games.

‘The two games I did play I played well. I proved myself so would have liked a few more chances, absolutely.

‘It wasn’t that easy with guys like Sherringham, Merson and Robert. But you have to look after the youth set-up as well.

‘Harry liked me and spoke to me and gave me my first professional contract here so we got on pretty well. Jim Smith arranged for me to go to Sweden.

‘There were some great players here, Harry as manager, and stands full up both ends – a little bit different to today but nothing has changed too much at Eastleigh.

‘Although, you do notice all the cut-backs. They have been made on small simple things – things you take for granted playing in Sweden and when I played here before. Those small things you ask for.

‘Things like an extra travel tracksuit to go away in, just in case you get some food on it.

‘Now there’s nothing left, you get what size you are given.’

Keene has now equalled the amount of games he started for Pompey in his breakthrough 2004-05 campaign.

That was a certain match at West Bromwich Albion which ended in a Pompey defeat – and Southampton’s relegation to the Championship.

The striker remembers the Hawthorns occasion only too well.

He added: ‘We sent Southampton down that day and didn’t even get a point.

‘I remember having a shot and the Pompey fans were booing because they didn’t want me to score.

‘It was quite strange, really.

‘I wanted to do well but I kind of felt bad if I did too well.’

 

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