PNE’s good Will hunting

Keane in action for Manchester United

Keane in action for Manchester United

Share this article
17
Have your say

Preston North End landed new boy Will Keane amid strong competition from four other Championship clubs.

The Manchester United striker has moved to Deepdale on a season-long loan, a deal which was finalised yesterday evening.

New PNE No.9 Will Keane at Deepdale

New PNE No.9 Will Keane at Deepdale

It is understood that Wolves, Blackburn, Hull and MK Dons all courted Keane’s services, the interest from three of them still there until the 22-year-old put pen to paper.

He will wear the No.9 shirt and was joining his new team-mates for training at Springfields this morning.

There is a chance of him making his debut in Saturday’s friendly at Chorley.

Keane, whose twin brother Michael plays for Burnley, joined Manchester United when he was 11.

His only taste of first-team football with United came as a substitute against Blackburn on New Year’s Eve 2011.

But he has subsequently played 28 games during loan spells with Wigan, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday.

His time with Wednesday came in the second half of last season when he made 16 appearances, finding the net three times.

Keane has played at Deepdale twice before and the second of those was a painful experience to say the least.

In May 2012, he was in the England Under-19s side which played Slovenia and Switzerland in Euro qualifiers.

He scored in a 5-0 win against Slovenia but after an hour of the Switzerland clash, suffered a knee ligament injury which kept him out of the entire 2012/13 campaign. North End were eager to add another striker to their squad in readiness for the return to the Championship.

Keane joins Joe Garner, Jermaine Beckford and Jordan Hugill in the forwards list, while Andy Little is another option up front.

The Stockport-born front man likes to play down the middle and can operate behind the strikers too.

PNE boss Simon Grayson said: “We are delighted to have signed Will. He has got fantastic movement and he is a goalscorer.

“Will suffered a bad injury a few years ago but he is hungry and after meeting him, he ticks every box we are looking for.

“We have pulled off a bit of a coup, beating several other Championship clubs to him and I do feel he is going to be a major asset to our squad.”

North End still hope to add Keane’s United team-mate Sam Johnstone to the squad at some point during pre-season.

United are willing to let the goalkeeper return to Preston after a successful five-month loan stint last season.

But that will only happen once the Red Devils sort out the future of David de Gea, who is wanted by Real Madrid.

If De Gea goes to Spain, United want to sign a replacement before letting Johnstone out on loan.

PNE remain in the market for a right-back and a left-back, Grayson having a couple of different options for both positions.