"I believe he will be a top player for Sunderland, he's got a big part to play," Keane said. "Coming from Manchester United he came with a decent reputation and it was only a year or two before that he was playing for England.
"The injury is a setback, more so for the player because it's bad enough being out but when you've just come to a new club it's even worse. But I'm hoping we see a hungry Kieran Richardson when he comes back. He's making good progress on the training pitch and we hope to see him in the next week or two, not necessarily with the first team but certainly involved in practice games.
"I'm sure it's been a difficult couple of months but I think he'll be OK, it's amazing when you're back on the training pitch and joining in, you see the light at the end of the tunnel. These are the challenges and tests you face as a footballer. It's not all glamour, it's about dealing with setbacks. I believe these things happen for a reason, Kieran has had a chance to sit back and get to know people at the club.
"But I bet he can't wait to get started with helping the team, especially in the position we're in."