Keane: Sometimes You Have to Take a Step Down to Spring Forward
Monday, 16th Sep 2019 16:54
Will Keane admits he was only too happy to step down to League One with Town because he shares the club’s ambition to return to the Championship.
Former Manchester United youngster Keane is even looking to push on still further, which can only mean the Premier League, but his immediate target extends no further than attempting to establish himself in manager Paul Lambert’s promotion-seeking side.
“I played in the Championship over the last couple of years and I see myself playing at that standard, or even better, in the future,” Keane said.
“But sometimes you have to take a step down to spring forward again and what better place to do it, in terms of the size of the club, than here?
“It still has that Championship feel about it, the way the manager treats the players and the way the club is run on a day-to-day basis.
“We’ve kept the bulk of the squad and hopefully it’s only going to be one year before we spring back up. If it happens we’ll have the momentum behind us.”
Lambert played a huge part in Keane’s decision to return to the club after spending the second half of last season on loan at Portman Road from Hull, whose decision to release him made him a free agent and open to offers from anywhere.
He added: “I really enjoyed working with the manager here last season and I felt he had been able to get the best out of me.
“He’s a really experienced manager and he’s been there and done it before. Hopefully, he will pass that on to us and you can see the hunger that he brings to the place every day.
“He’s got really high standards and isn’t going to settle for second best, which is hopefully going to bode well as he keeps pushing us on.”
Keane instantly noted how the atmosphere surrounding the club had changed for the better since last season, continuing: “We were discussing this the other day in a team meeting, how we have done well to switch to a winning mentality.
“Last year was obviously a struggle and we had a lot of disappointments, but we’ve got that winning feeling back now.
“Even on Saturday, when we came off the pitch having not lost the game against Doncaster, we were disappointed.
“Winning is a good habit to have and we want to keep building because it breeds confidence.
“We’ve stepped down a level but the size of the club is such that we’re expected to be up there this season and we need to be able to cope with that expectation.
“The manager has really high standards and we’ve mainly got to worry about ourselves in this division.
“We know what we can do and if we do it well, hopefully win a good chunk of games, winning will breed confidence.
“It probably helps that we went down with the fans still supporting us. The writing was on the wall for quite a few weeks – it was inevitable that it was going to happen – and once our fate was confirmed the mindsets switched to the new season and making sure we bounced straight back.
“We’re in League One now but it feels like the whole place is revitalised. Winning makes a huge difference and it feels good around Portman Road and the place in general.
“We’ve got to keep feeding off that and it’s a marvellous help. Teams coming here are going to find it tough.
“Most of the team is pretty much the same as last season but we’ve added Nors [James Norwood] and he’s a big character, a lot of fun.
“It’s also good to see some of the lads who had been out on loan last season to get some games back here and integrating themselves back into the squad.
“I think we’ve got a good mix – the skipper and Skusey are senior players who have done it all before and we have a group of young talented players as well.
“I didn’t meet Luke [Woolfenden] last year because he was at Swindon and he’s not only had a good run of games, he’s been playing really well. It’s only going to help that he’s playing alongside Chambo.”
Meanwhile, Keane is hoping that a return to action with Town will eventually lead to an international future with the Republic of Ireland, for whom he qualifies via his father who was born there.
He added: “I spoke to Mick [McCarthy, the Irish manager] at the end of last season but haven’t spoken to him since then.
“I’m sure he’s aware of my injury setback but hopefully I can get myself back in the mix here and get back to playing games again. I hope that will put me back on their radar.
“It’s great that Judgey is still involved with Ireland and he did well in the last couple of games, so if I am playing well and scoring goals I’m hoping I can push for a place in their squad.
“It helps that there’s a direct link between Judgey and Ireland because he fills me in with what’s happening there.
“If I’m doing well enough maybe he can put in a good word for me, although Mick is always going to take an interest in what’s happening at Ipswich as well.”
Selection for Ireland could see Keane pitted against his twin brother, Michael, the Everton and England central defender.
“The pair remain very close, with Will explaining: “We’re always in touch and speak most days. He had a little blip in the week, when he was playing for England and made a mistake, but that’s part and parcel of the game, as well as injuries have been for me.
“You’re going to make the odd mistake but you just have to get on with it and keep doing the right things.
“He knows how I’ve been unlucky with my injuries but he and the other members of my family are all hoping I can come here, string a few games together and show what I can do.
“We’ve always been competitive but we’ve calmed down a bit now. We used to be very competitive and it got a bit messy at times when we were scrapping.
“It’s a bit more mature and has settled down now but there’s still that edge when we’re playing FIFA, golf or anything.
“I’d like to say I was better at FIFA but to be fair to him he’s a decent golfer. It’s up and down and on any given day anything can happen when we get together.”
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