As strange as it may seem watching two brothers play for an elite football team simultaneously, Manchester United fans are getting accustomed to that view since the mid 90s.
Gary and Phil Neville successfully stayed part of both United and England defences for more than a decade. Rafael and Fabio Da Silva have been running down the flanks since they arrived from Fluminense four years back. Now it’s the turn of the Keane twins.
“I’m very, very disappointed for the lad. He was in the first-team squad for next season.” Sir Alex Ferguson on Will Keane injury
Will Keane is a proven goal scorer who, because of his talent to be in the right place at the right time, has been compared to both Spanish and Norwegian legends Raúl González and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Keane has already featured three times for England’s U21s and made his debut in the Premier League in the shock 3-2 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford in December 2011.
His fantastic performances earned him a place in the preliminary senior squad for the 2013 season. However, his unstoppable path to professional football was dramatically halted the last summer, as the striker sustained a horrific injury, while being on international duty with England’s U19s, which has prevented him from playing any football so far this season. Fortunately, he is well on his way back and could be playing with the Reserves in a few weeks.
Drawing a comparison between Gary Neville and Michael Keane seems inevitable. Both are die-hard United fans since childhood, play at right back and have progressed through the ranks because of their hard work and determination. Michael Keane made his debut in the 3-0 win at Aldershot Town in October 2011 and is now an England U19 international after having previously represented Ireland.
“It’s brilliant [to see the kids come through]. It’s what this club is all about. You’re prepared for that at a young age and to finally make your debut at Old Trafford, all of them performed fantastically and showed they’re capable and they’re ready. It bodes well for the future.” Sir Alex on the promotion of youth
The no-nonsense defender is enjoying a brilliant season as he played twice with Manchester United in the League Cup against top-flight opposition (2-1 win vs. Newcastle United and 5-4 loss vs. Chelsea) and in the UEFA Champions League against FC Basel, prior to being loaned to Leicester City where he is impressing week in and week out.
The Keane brothers guided Manchester United Reserves to a remarkable treble in the 2011-12 season including the Premier Reserve League North, the Premier Reserve League National and the Manchester Senior Cup. Will Keane netted 19 times in the process and Michael wrapped up a brilliant season by achieving a fully deserved Reserve Player of the Year Award.
With United’s long lasting tradition of breeding talent from within, the Keane brothers are certainly going to be getting their opportunities with the first team and given the progression they have shown over the last two years, it might not be long before another pair of brothers are part of the first team squad on a permanent basis.