PNE striker Keane to get off league mark

Will Keane does battle with Wolves skipper Danny Batth at Deepdale last Saturday
Will Keane does battle with Wolves skipper Danny Batth at Deepdale last Saturday
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Striker Will Keane returns with Preston North End to one of his previous temporary homes this weekend.

Keane spent more than three months on loan at Sheffield Wednesday last season, scoring three goals in 13 appearances.

He will be in North End colours at Hillsborough this time, his aim to help PNE find a win which would haul them out of the relegation zone.

“I enjoyed my time there and I’m still in touch with a few of the lads,” said Keane.

“The manager and some of the backroom staff have changed, they’ve signed a lot of new players so it will be a bit different.

“I’m looking forward to going back and putting in a good performance.

“Stevie May is in the same boat as myself – he was at Wednesday last season.

“Our loyalties are with Preston now and we will be trying as hard as possible to get a win.

“Both Stevie and myself could do with a goal and that is what we will be looking to do.

“I went to Wednesday in the second half of last season, I was there from late January through to the end of the season.

“Unfortunately I rolled my ankle in a home game and missed seven or eight games.

“I think the question was raised about maybe going back but the manager changed, as did the owner.

“They had their own ideas and brought in a lot of new players.

“I wanted to go to a club where I was going to be playing – that might not have been the case at Sheffield Wednesday.

“Preston was the right option for me this summer and I’m glad to be here.”

This is Keane’s fourth loan away from Manchester United – he had spells at Wigan and Queens Park Rangers before going to Wednesday.

They were all shorter stays than the season-long loan he signed up for at Deepdale in July.

Being able to have a full year at a club was his aim for this campaign.

Keane said: “When I spoke to Simon Grayson about coming here, he was saying that a loan for the full season would be better psychologically for me.

“He said I would feel a proper part of the team and I think that has been the case.

“I know I’m here for the season and I feel really settled, very much part of it.

“I stay in touch with United and popped in the other day to collect a pair of boots.

“But my focus is on playing here this season and helping us do as well as we can in this league.”

Like all the other strikers at North End, Keane is still chasing a league goal.

He scored in the Capital One Cup against Crewe in August but is in the same boat as May, Eoin Doyle, Joe Garner and Jordan Hugill when it comes to netting in the Championship.

Garner starts a three-match ban this weekend, his bid to score in the league now on hold until later in the month. That suspension is the legacy of a red card against Wolves last Saturday, defender Bailey Wright sent off later in the same game to reduce PNE to nine men.

Once Garner had gone for his early bath, Keane took up the task of being the lone front man in a 4-4-1 system – he gave way later to Hugill during the second half.

“It was a tough few days for the lads because the Wolves game came on the back of playing 120 minutes against Bournemouth in the cup,” Keane said.

“The last thing we wanted after that was to go down to 10 men so early and then to nine men.

“It was difficult but after playing so well – it was disappointing to concede the late equaliser and not get the three points.

“The lads worked so hard to try and get the win and we were so close.

“We had started the game really well, the lads looked bright and we got the goal.

“That sucker punch of losing Joe Garner shocked us and we were on the back foot for most of the game.

“We dug in and defended really well, but then their lad stuck one into the top corner – there was nothing Jordan Pickford could do to stop it.

“What was disappointing is that if we had managed to hold on and get the three points, that would have taken us out of the bottom three.

“Getting up the table is what we are now aiming to do when we go to Sheffield Wednesday.

“We are not far off a good result and it would be great to take a win into the international break.

“In terms of my performances, I think I have been doing well recently.

“Of course I would like to get on the scoresheet more but I’m sure the goals will come.

“I have been getting into some good positions in games and now it is about finishing the chances which come my way.

“We have got some good competition up front, even though Joe is out at the moment.

“Jordan Hugill is back in the fold now and has done very well when he has come on in the last two games.

“We have got the two new lads, Stevie May and Eoin Doyle, who are raring to go.”

Keane predicts the playing surface at Hillsborough will be in better nick than it was when he played for Wednesday.

He said: “They have relaid it which is good – it wasn’t in a great state last season.”