ISL 2017/18: ATK manager Ashley Westwood says Robbie Keane could return for Bengaluru FC match
ATK's poor run of form continued as the reigning champions piled up three losses on the trot thus hindering their playoff chances even more.
The two-time ISL champions were left pondering over another home loss last night as they were beaten by Jamshedpur FC by a one-goal margin. ATK seemed to be playing aimlessly for the most part, barring some attacking flickers down the wing by Jayesh Rane.
In the end, ATK succumbed to a blow as youngster Hitesh Sharma gave away a penalty for a silly foul on Trindade Goncalves, which the Brazilian slotted home from the spot with a Simone Zaza like run-up.
ATK, who have had to deal with injury blows throughout the season, looked lacklustre without many of their key players. Interim manager Ashley Westwood pointed it out during his post-match address.
"We need to keep people fit. We had four foreigners today. Four are injured, we've got indian boys injured too and we are playing a weak team because of the injuries." said Westwood.
"Keeping players fit is key for us now. Robbie Keane's injured, which doesn't help us as he's our main scorer. Ryan Taylor's out too with a suspension and an injury he's one of our main suppliers. Eugenson Lyngdoh is injured too, he's probably our best Indian player. It's not an excuse, but that's the cards we have got at the moment, we have something like 10 injuries so it's difficult", he further added.
Most of ATK's star foreign recruits have been ruled out via injuries including former Manchester United man Tom Thorpe, Portuguese attacking midfielder Zequinha and late signing Ryan Taylor, but the one that Westwood's side is missing the most is their marquee man and former Republic of Ireland captain, Robbie Keane.
The former Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool man had gone back home after picking up an injury. Keane has been only properly involved in three matches but had to spend the rest of his time recovering from his injury. The Irishman who returned to the country yesterday, was present in the stadium last night, cheering on his teammates.
When asked about Keane's status, Westwood said, "He came back today, he's looking to step up his workload this week and start with his running tomorrow and if there is no reaction to the training, I don't see why he can't be close to full fitness for the weekend."
Westwood, though, clearly stated how difficult it would be now for the Kolkata outfit to make it to the playoffs, after their poor run of matches throughout the season.
"It looks very very tough, we need at least five wins and a draw, possibly even six wins, we are running out of games, we will hope to get more players fit by the next game and hope to get stronger. It's tough with all these injuries but it's not dead. If we don't get too down and know that these guys are coming back from injury, then I'm sure we can make an impact." he said.
"We need to get the first win under our belt. Once that happens the morale will lift and people will start to believe and then we'll go from there. But until we get that first win, it's going to be tough." further added the Englishman.
Westwood further felt that the chance creation was one of the positives of the match that he would take away apart from the fact that the club gave a debut to a young star in Komal Thatal, who became the first player from the side that represented India in the U17 World Cup to play in the ISL.
ATK will be hoping to turn things for the better as they face their third opponent in their string of five home matches. They have an even tougher task ahead of them as Westwood faces his former side and current league leaders Bengaluru FC on 3rd February, 2018.