England Under-21 international Michael Keane has joined Blackburn Rovers on-loan for the remainder of the season.
Blackburn are in desperate need of central defenders, after Grant Hanley and Matt Kilgallon are both under an injury cloud.
Keane is likely to start in the East-Lancashire Derby against Burnley tomorrow, and is looking forward to helping the Rovers peg-back the high-flying Clarets.
“I know there’s a massive rivalry between the teams as I’ve watched a couple of the games before from a previous season so I know what to expect and I’m looking forward to it,” Keane said to the Lancashire Telegraph.
Keane was looking forward to a personal duel with striker Danny Ings – who has scored 24 goals this season – after the two were in the squad for England U21’s 1-0 win over Wales during the week.
“He’s a top class striker, really sharp and a great finisher,” said Keane.
“He gets lots of goals, as does Sam Vokes, so we’re going to have to defend really well as a team and not just as a back four to prevent them from scoring.”
Keane was supposed to play for the England U21 side against Wales, but was forced to sit-out due to an administrative error – after his brother Will was registered instead of him.
“I was warming up and with 15 minutes to go I was told I wasn’t starting because of an administration problem.
“It was obviously a mistake and I was disappointed but there was nothing I could have done.”
Blackburn won’t be too upset by Keane’s lack-of midweek action, and will be even happier if they can finalise the loan of Millwall winger Liam Feeney today.
The 27-year-old Feeney had an impressive-but-short spell at Bolton last October, before being recalled to Millwall after the London club was hit with a large number of injuries.
Bolton was poised to permanently sign Feeney after his first two appearances at the Reebok, but the deal fell through after Millwall requested an early payment.
Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer was confident that the big-derby-occasion wouldn’t phase the 21-year-old Keane.
“If you look at him and some of the games he’s had in his short career, they have been in big games,” Bowyer said to rovers.co.uk.
“He’s played in the play-off finals last season, and he played for Manchester United against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Carling Cup.
“So I don’t think it will phase him at all, we are looking forward to him playing.”
Burnley are currently 20 points ahead of Blackburn and in second-place on the Championship table, which is the biggest league-lead the Clarets have ever enjoyed over their Lancashire rivals.
For Burnley veteran Michael Duff automatic promotion was more-important that local bragging rights, although a win at Ewood Park would certainly help send them up.
“We all know about the big stat that it’s over 30 years since Burnley beat Blackburn, but this year there’s a bigger picture,” the 36-year-old said to The Clitheroe Advertiser.
“Recently it might have been the be all and end all to beat Blackburn.
“But this year it would be the icing on the cake if we could do it and get promoted as well.
“It doesn’t matter who we play against, we play to win every game, and this game is no different.”