Michael Keane plots for three points in Kaunas for Under-21s

Friday 05 Sep 2014
Keane, pictured in training at St. George's Park earlier this week
It has been something of an eventful week so far for England Under-21s defender Michael Keane.

The 21-year-old reported to St. George’s Park for England duty on Sunday evening, fresh from being on Manchester United’s bench during their draw at Burnley the previous day.

Just over 24 hours later, following a hectic transfer deadline day, he had signed a deal to head back to Burnley on loan until January.

Lithuania U21s v England U21s

UEFA Euro U21 Championship
Group One Qualifier
5pm (BST), Friday 5 September
Dariaus ir Gireno Stadium, Kaunas


It was then a return to England training on Tuesday morning as Keane’s focus turned to Friday’s Euro qualifier in Kaunas, where the Three Lions will meet Lithuania in their penultimate group game ahead of next week’s final match in Moldova.

"It’s been a good campaign for us so far and we have only dropped points in one game, so we’re looking to finish with two wins and two good performances to take into the play-offs," said Keane, who has featured in all but one of England’s group games.

"Travelling away provides a different challenge for us, it seems like a while since we had an away game.

"When we’re at home, some of these teams sit back a bit more which makes it difficult for us to break them down. 

"But when they’re playing at home they might be a bit more adventurous which means we might be able to get a few more goals."

With England having already secured top spot in the group and therefore a place in next month’s play-offs, these two games offer a chance for boss Gareth Southgate to run the rule over his squad.

He has selected a 21-man group for the trip east and everyone involved knows that they are playing for their places in the all-important play-offs, whether that is in training with England or back at their domestic clubs.

"There’s a lot of competition," added Keane. 

Keane has his eyes on the United first-team squad

Keane has scored three goals for England U21s in the qualifiers so far


"You see most of the players progressing now at their clubs and playing in the Championship and Premier League and when you come to training with England, it’s a really high level.

"Everyone’s fighting for their place and you can only prove that in training and the games so we’ll all be looking to do that."

Keane himself is now hoping that he can shine at the highest level in England, after his switch to join the newly-promoted Clarets.

He has enjoyed loan spells in the Championship with Leicester City, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers in the previous two seasons and was part of the United squad during pre-season under new boss Louis van Gaal this summer.

A Premier League debut followed in the United’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland last month, but it is the opportunity for more regular top-flight appearances with Sean Dyche’s side which swayed Keane towards Turf Moor.

"I’m very happy about it, it should be a great experience for me in the Premier League so I’m really looking forward to it," he said.

"I didn’t have a clue until about 5pm on deadline day, so it was all a bit of a rush and hectic but we managed to get the loan deal done in the end.

“It’s been a good campaign for us so far.”

Michael Keane 


"I feel it’s the next step in my progression at that level.

"I think I’ve done pretty well in the Championship over the last two seasons when I’ve been out on loan there.

"But I’ve only played once in the Premier League before, so I’m looking forward to making that next step and playing some more."

And it should not take long for the Stockport-born central defender to get used to life at the club, with new Burnley team-mates Danny Ings and Nathaniel Chalobah also in the Under-21s squad.

"That will definitely help me to settle in when I first go, but I’ve heard that they’re a great bunch of lads [at Burnley] anyway," he said.

"The manager [Dyche] came down to speak to me on Monday and I’ve been speaking to Ingsy about it as well, so I’m just ready to get there now and start training."

England face Lithuania on Friday evening in Kaunas (5pm BST) and then head further east to Tiraspol, where they will play Moldova on Tuesday 9 September.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Kaunas, Lithuania