Keane: We Want to Go All the Way
Wednesday, 9th Oct 2019 11:21
Striker Will Keane says he and his team-mates are aiming to go all the way in the Leasing.com Trophy having reached the knockout phase by comfortably defeating Gillingham 4-0 at Portman Road last night.
Keane, playing his first full 90 minutes of 2019/20, netted the Blues’ fourth goal, opening his account for the season having re-signed on a permanent deal in August following his loan spell in the second half of the last campaign.
“It was really enjoyable,” the 26-year-old reflected on the game. “Obviously we wanted to carry on the winning form from the league and we managed to do that, which was nice.
"A convincing performance, nice to get a clean sheet and a few more goals for the fans to cheer.”
Keane says the competition is proving a useful one with players such as himself on the way back from injury able to get minutes under their belts, while youngsters have also been introduced and made an impression.
“Is’s massively beneficial for lads who haven’t had the minutes in the league, first-team players, it’s great for them to build on that and for the young lads to get the opportunity to show what they can do,” he said.
“We saw Dobs [Armando Dobra] come on again at half-time and make a great impact and Hughesy [Tommy Hughes] coming on at the end making his debut was great to see. So, it’s a big competition for us and we want to go all the way.”
He added: “We’ve made a good start and we’ve obviously got that winning feeling now and we want to keep that going. That’s obviously a good habit to have.
“We’ve got a big squad so I think we’ve got the added bonus that we can put strong teams out, even rest players but still it was pretty much a first-team XI tonight, as you saw. So yeah, we want to keep kicking on and go all the way.
“It’s nice to get [qualification for the next phase] sorted, we’ve got another one of these sorted next month, so that’s another good opportunity for some of the lads who have not been playing. It’s enjoyable.”
Keane is a big fan of 19-year-old Dobra, who now travels to join up with the Albania U19s squad: “He’s a massive talent. We’ve seen it in training, to be fair, and the manager’s spotted that and put him in.
“He’s only a slight lad but he keeps going and he’s got great balance, he’s a strong lad and you can see his ability, his dribbling with the ball is great and he’s got a bright future.”
Regarding Hughes, 18, who came on in central midfield, he said: “I thought you could see when he came on, he likes to get on the ball, he’s got a great range of passing, he was spraying it about and he showed that confidence.
“To be fair, I think all the young lads that come and train with us all lift it and they look very bright and they’re desperate to do well. It’s great to see.”
Keane was playing his first game after suffering a minor groin problem, which saw him miss the last two matches.
“It’s been frustrating, obviously it was nice to get minutes in the MK Dons game, nice to get a good hour plus there and contribute,” he said.
“And then I’ve just had a little niggling groin injury but I think coming back from my hamstring injury I’m going to get little niggles and it’s probably just a case of managing it.
“Hopefully getting this 90 minutes tonight is hopefully a big step in the right direction and if I get a couple more under my belt I’ll have all those niggles behind me and I can kick on.
“I picked it up in the warm-up at Gillingham a few weeks ago. The pitch wasn’t the best, it was quite dry and just had a shot and tweaked my groin a little bit.
“It was something out of nothing really but last weekend it still wasn’t quite right, so it made sense just to rest it.
"Obviously there are plenty of games coming up and with Nors [James Norwood] having this little procedure it made sense to rest that and get myself right for the next game.”
The former Hull City man believes he’s not too many more games away from full fitness: “Maybe another couple of full 90s. Because I didn’t have a pre-season, that was my first 90 minutes in quite a long time, so I’m probably still in that phase.
"But I feel good, I got through that well and I’m just looking to get a few more as soon as possible really.
“I feel good, obviously the goal helps as well. You don’t feel as tired when you nick a goal, do you? It was good.
“It was an added bonus to get the goal but the main aim was to get through the 90 minutes. We’ve got no game at the weekend so it was a good chance to get that in the bank and then rest and prepare for Accrington next weekend.”
Keane underwent hamstring surgery early in the summer but says he’s having no problem with that: “It feels great, feels fine, no issues with that, which is good.”
The one-time Manchester United trainee was pleased to get off the mark regardless of the competition.
“Of course, even though it was in this cup, a goal’s a goal, especially at Portman Road, it was nice to get it in front of the fans,” he continued.
“I’m underway, it’s definitely helps the confidence and I sort of had to be patient in that half, it went a little bit flat, I didn’t get involved too much but I kept my cool and it was nice to to see it go in.
“I think sometimes when they look so easy they’re probably more difficult. You have a few different things go through your head, a few different options but I just thought I needed to focus and saw a gap appear near-side so just slotted it.
“I was debating whether to dink it over him but I didn’t want to waste it, it was my only chance really in the game and I thought I didn’t want be too tricky and mess it up, so it was nice to see it go in the back of the net.”
Keane says it’s a big positive for the Blues that there are players scoring from all over the pitch at present.
“You can see that there are goals from different positions,” he added. “Ems [Emyr Huws] got a great strike and it’s good for strikers.
"We know that if he’s got the opportunity, chances are he’s going to have a strike and we make sure we’re following it in and you’re going to get rebounds.
“We saw with that with Jacko’s [Kayden Jackson] goal at the weekend. Another good effort from Garbs [Luke Garbutt] and an easy goal for us, so there’s goals in the team and it’s nice to see everyone chipping in.”
Keane says everyone in the squad has bought into manager Paul Lambert’s rotation policy.
“I think to go all the way you’ve got to have that strength in depth and the lads understand it,” he said.
“I’m sure everyone wants to play every game and it gets frustrating at times but nights like tonight, where we put in good performances, everyone’s knocking on the manager’s door and giving him something to think about.
“We’re all keen to play and we’ve just got to make sure when we get called up we do the job.”
Keane could be in line for some involvement against Accrington with Norwood having undergone groin surgery in Germany earlier this week, although the Blues’ number 10 is expected to be fit for the trip to the North-West a week on Sunday.
“Potentially yes,” Keane reflected. “Hopefully he has a quick turnaround and gets himself right soon.
“But if I’m called upon it’s a good opportunity for myself to get in the team and help keep the run going. Whether it’s from the bench or starting, I’ll make sure that I’m ready.”
He admits he’s itching to start a League One game: “Yes, definitely. I’ve been here for a good month plus now, especially when you see the lads doing so well and doing so well, you want to be a part of it.
“But I knew I might have to be patient and it’s a good thing that it’s giving the manager something to think about and the fact that we’re doing so well, that’s what we all want and everyone’s supporting each other, so we’ve got to keep it going.”
However, he knows it makes sense for players such as himself not to be pushed too much when coming back from injury,
“Exactly, maybe in the past if lads haven’t been quite ready but we haven’t got the strength in depth in the squad, they’ve had to push lads back too soon,” he continued.
“You’ve probably seen it with Toto [Nsiala] as well, he’s had his hamstring issue but he’s played quite a few ressies game and, as you saw tonight, he’s looking really strong and ready to go.
“But we’ve been so solid at the back, there’s no real rush to get him back, that’s just the way it’s been. You’ve just got to keep patient and hopefully get a chance soon.”
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