The LA Galaxy announced today that the club has agreed to send forward Robbie Keane to Aston Villa of the Premier League on loan ahead of the start of the 2012 MLS season. The Ireland international, who had been training with his former club, Tottenham Hotspur, since the start of January, began training with Alex McLeish’s squad earlier this week ahead of the completion of the loan. He will be eligible to play for the Birmingham-based club beginning immediately and could make his debut for the club this weekend against Everton, who feature Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.

Keane will be eligible to play in as many as eight games for Aston Villa in the Premier League and the FA Cup before the FIFA international date at the end of February during which Ireland are scheduled to host the CzechRepublic for a friendly in Dublin. Following that game, Keane will rejoin the Galaxy ahead of the club’s trip to Toronto for the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Toronto FC at Rogers Centre on Wednesday, March 7.

Originally signed by the Galaxy in August 2011, Keane made his debut against San Jose on August 20, scoring his team’s first goal in that game. He had two goals and an assist in seven regular season games for the Galaxy last season before adding a goal and an assist in the MLS Cup Playoffs as he helped the Galaxy win their first MLS Cup since 2005. In all competitions for the club, Keane had four goals and two assists in 11 games, scoring once in the CONCACAF Champions League in addition to his goals in MLS play. He also added four goals during the club’s Asia Pacific Tour following the season, tallying at least once in all three of the games that the Galaxy played.

Aston Villa will be Keane’s fifth Premier League club, having previously played for CoventryCity, Leeds United, Liverpool and Tottenham prior to joining the Galaxy. With more than 100 Premier League goals to his name, Keane is one of the League’s all-time leading goal scorers and will add to an attack that features England internationals Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent, who was also Keane’s teammate at Tottenham. The captain of Ireland and the country’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals in 114 games, Keane helped lead his nation to the 2012 European Championships, scoring a team-high seven times in qualifying while appearing in 11 of Ireland’s 12 matches. Prior to this summer’s tournament, Ireland, who will face Croatia, Italy and defending European Champion Spain in Group C, had not qualified for a major tournament since the 2002 FIFA World Cup and had not qualified for the European Championships since 1984.

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