Keane is back at United

Will Keane in action for PNE at Huddersfield on Boxing Day
Will Keane in action for PNE at Huddersfield on Boxing Day
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Will Keane has left Preston North End and returned to Manchester United part-way through his loan spell.

The striker was surprisingly recalled to Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve, having scored two goals in 14 starts and eight substitute appearances for PNE.

Keane, 22, joined North End on a season-long loan in July, however United had a recall option in the deal.

It is understood that Keane had talks with United manager Louis van Gaal during the week, asking to be given a chance to impress at United.

After opening his scoring account in the Capital One Cup win at Crewe in August, Keane did not find the net again until PNE beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor on December 5 - a game in which he was in opposition to his twin brother Michael.

He had started to find his form over the last month, starting the last six games.

United have closely monitored Keane during his loan, their Under-21s coach Warren Joyce regularly watching PNE’s games.

North End manager Simon Grayson told Sky Sports News: “United felt they needed an extra body around them.

“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose Will. In the last few weeks he’s been finding his feet with us. But that is what happens when you get loan players.

“We accept it and will probably go into the market over the next few days and weeks to bring in reinforcements.

“Hopefully he will do well for Manchester United.”

This was Keane’s fourth loan spell away from United, having played for Wigan, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday since recovering from a serious knee injury which kept him out of the game for 16 months.

Keane is the second loan player to have left Deepdale in the last couple of days, Jordan Pickford having been recalled by Sunderland.

Pickford was swiftly replaced by Sam Johnstone who has joined on a 28-day loan from United.

Johnstone will make his second PNE debut in Saturday’s clash with Rotherham United at Deepdale.