With the fixture at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers culminating another month oozing with football action, I thought it would be the ideal time to deliver the next instalment of the Preston perspective with regards to Will Keane’s progress at Preston North End.
September has been a month of conflicting fortunes for Will Keane, as the youngster continues to adapt to life in the arduous second tier of English football.
A few weeks ago I seriously began to demur over whether we were about to witness an abrupt end to the future of Keane at Preston.
On the infamous, melodramatic occasion that calls itself Deadline Day, Preston had plunged deep into their fathomless pockets to reel in two talented strikers with stark aptness when it comes to scoring goals. Eoin Doyle and Stevie May had put pen to paper and joined the club from Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday respectively. Talks of a whopping 7 figure fee for May began to materialise; a surreal sum of money for a club that is usually reluctant to part with £10… Where would the youthful exuberance of Keane fit into the expanding picture at Preston with two new arrivals?
However, Simon Grayson, being the pragmatic and diligent man he is devised a plan that would ensure Keane still had a prominent role to play at a club not only steeped in history, but steeped in strikers.
Ensuing a prolonged period without football due to the International Break, Preston’s first match of September was a compelling tie at home to Derby County. Most Preston fans fell into a trap of misconceived preconception. Many thought that Keane’s future lay on the prosaic bench, however Keane started ahead of both our illustrious new signings.
Why? Well, simply to illustrate to Keane that despite an influx of forward players it would not mean that he could not strive for success and fight for his shirt. Grayson instilled his confidence in the loanee and what a superb tactical move it was. Whilst Keane struggled to make an impact, we were facing a side who had invested £20 million into their squad, so by no means were we competing against mediocre opposition.
In the next two fixtures Keane started on the bench, and despite coming on as a second half substitute in both games, he barely had any time to make a significant impact. Keane received plenty of undeserved disparagement and denigration, and I label this criticism as undeserved because of the clear talent Keane possesses. Furthermore, a number of questions have arisen in my mind with regards to Keane’s primary position.
Upon arrival, the Untied youngster was deemed to be an out and out striker, however I would claim otherwise. Going off recent evidence Keane’s best position lies in that pocket of space just behind the strikers. He is a resourceful, adroit playmaker with an abundance of promise in that role.
Keane got a recall to the starting XI and a chance to impress as Preston played host to Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth. One of the reasons I highly venerate the League Cup is purely because it gives those players out of favour an opportunity to impress. And Keane did just that.
Operating in a role just behind the front man, he flaunted his talent and artistry on the ball. He played with confidence and prowess, with a great showing of dexterity. It’s undeniable that Keane is a willing and talented lad, however he definitely lacks a prolific streak and eye for goal. It is indubitable that this aptness in front of net will develop over time, but currently Keane’s optimum position is in the attacking midfield role. On that inclement Tuesday night at Deepdale, Keane earned the Man of the Match accolade and even bagged himself a penalty after extra time, however it proved frivolous as Preston were callously knocked out in the infamous penalty shootout.
Following this scintillating showing of football from Will against First Division opposition, he deservedly earned a starting place against Kenny Jackett’s Wolves at Deepdale. Once again Keane was operating the Number 10 role and once again he had a very gratifying performance. He oozed creativity and his assiduous nature was palpable, even when we went down to 10 men a mere 19 minutes into a feisty affair. Keane was left as the solitary striker in the restricted side, although he remained industrious and persistent throughout ensuring that pressure remained high in the final third.
Keane is definitely making positive inroads as time progresses and it all bodes well for the games to come.