The moment which saw Marcus Rashford become a Manchester United star and Will Keane head to the Old Trafford exit
PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 June 2020
Departing Ipswich Town striker Will Keane has recalled the moment he knew his Manchester United career was over.
Keane was highly thought of throughout his journey through the Red Devils’ academy, winning the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award, given to the club’s best performer at age group level as he followed in the footsteps of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Danny Welbeck. Marcus Rashford has won it since.
And it’s Rashford who played a leading role in Keane’s Old Trafford exit, with a moment of misfortune seeing the England international leap-frog Keane in the pecking order.
It’s February 2016 and Keane has been named on the bench for an FA Cup game at Shrewsbury by United boss Louis van Gaal. He’s ahead of Rashford, who hasn’t made the squad, in the Dutchman’s thinking and knows he has a chance to stake a claim.
“I was ahead of Marcus in the pecking order,” Keane said in an interview with The National. “I came on ahead of him at Shrewsbury. He wasn’t even in the squad.
“But after I came on I felt something pop in my left groin which I had never had. It felt like my left leg had detached from my body.
“It is all about timing,” he added. “It was my last chance to make an impression.”
And so it proved. He never played for United again and departed for Hull that summer.
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Rashford’s United debut came just three days after that match at Shrewsbury, against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League. He scored twice, netted two more three days later in a game with Arsenal and hasn’t looked back.
It’s only natural for Keane to wonder what might have been had he not been injured.
“Marcus was always going to get a chance,” he added. “He was highly thought of.”
“There was no bitterness towards him but it rubbed salt in the wound a little bit because it could have been me.”
Keane’s career at Hull was heavily disrupted by injury, prior to a loan move to Portman Road in January 2019. His first campaign at Portman Road ended in hamstring surgery, before a prolonged spell of fitness during 2019/20 after rejoining the club on a free transfer last summer.
Reflecting on his season with Ipswich, with the Blues sitting 10th in League One prior to the suspension of play, Keane added: “Before it finished with coronavirus, I had played really well but the goals had dried up. (he scored six, but had been on a run of 11 without scoring)
“The ambition is to get back into the Championship with Ipswich.”
As things stand, Keane will leave Ipswich at the end of June when his contract expires, with the club choosing not to take up the option in his contract. However, general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill has stressed they may look to retain his services in the future once the football landscape becomes clearer.
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