ROY Keane sparked a backlash after claiming head injuries are part of football in the wake of ex-Reading FC striker Kevin Doyle’s retirement.

Doyle, 34, announced last week he is hanging up his boots on medical advice after a series of concussions made heading the ball ‘problematic’ and left him with recurring headaches.

The former Royals fans’ favourite, who was part of Steve Coppell’s record-breaking side in 2005/06, ended his career with Colorado Rapids in America’s MLS.

Reading supporters and ex-players have been paying their tributes to the Wexford-born star, who won 64 Republic of Ireland caps.

But Ireland’s assistant manager Keane claims head injuries go with the territory of being a professional footballer.

“If you’re worried about the physical side of any sport, you’re wary of it, then play chess,” said Keane.

“It’s part of the game, whether it be hurling, football, American Football, the rugby lads, it’s part of the game.

“When you cross that line, there is an element of risk involved. I don’t think it would make a difference to the players playing now. When you cross that line, there’s a chance that you might get a knock.

“I’m pretty sure there is a lot of research going into it. People question the PFA, this and that, but when you cross that line, there’s a chance you might get hurt. They’re the risks you take.”

Reading Chronicle: What a bargain: Kevin Doyle cost Reading a meagre £78,000 and was sold for a whopping £6.5 million. Royals boss Brian McDermott is currenly in Ireland searching for the next Doyle.

Kevin Doyle in action for Reading FC.

Keane’s comments come at a time when more and more research is being conducted into long-term brain injuries in sports such as football, boxing, rugby and American Football.

Doyle made 479 appearances and scored 129 goals over a 15-year club career that started with St Pats in the League of Ireland in 2002.

He moved to Cork City the following year and then to Reading where he rattled in 56 goals in 163 appearances over the next four years at Madejski Stadium.

Doyle became a mainstay in Steve Coppell’s record-breaking side that secured promotion to the top flight in 2006 for the first time in the club’s history.

Doyle was eventually sold to Wolves in 2009 for a then club-record £6.5m before joining Colorado Rapids in 2015.

But while Keane’s words may appear rather unsympathetic, the ex-Manchester United midfielder says Doyle has made the right choice.

“It’s sad, but he’s made the right decision, no doubt,” he added. “He’s had an excellent career and seems a real decent guy.

“He’s 34, he’s had a decent innings and hopefully he’s picked the right time to retire. As everyone else has been saying, your health is your wealth.

“If he’s had concussions over the years and he feels he’s suffering from them, then obviously he feels that’s right for him.

“But it’s part of the game – players picking up injuries and getting knocks.

“He’s a centre-forward, he’s going to be running the channels with centre-halves – it’s what you’d expect. I’m sure he’s knocked a few centre-halves over himself and he’s had a few knocks, and that’s part of the game.

“There’s risk involved in everything, particularly sport.”