Dream come true for Clarets star

Defender Michael Keane believes that his inclusion in Gareth Southgate's England set up can only aid his development on the pitch.

Friday, 11th November 2016, 7:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:56 pm
England's Michael Keane (right) in action during a training session at St George's Park, Burton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.

The 23-year-old centre-back was called up to the initial 25-man Three Lions squad for the first time in his career, having been drafted in for the World Cup qualifying Group F games against Malta and Slovenia at the last minute due to Glen Johnson’s withdrawal.

Keane, alongside Burnley skipper Tom Heaton, was selected for tonight’s game against Scotland at Wembley and Tuesday’s friendly versus Spain after the dramatic 3-2 win against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor, witnessed by Southgate himself, who sat alongside chairman Mike Garlick in the Bob Lord Stand.

After joining up with his international team-mates at St George’s Park, the former Manchester United man said: “Yes, different ideas and different bits of advice from different people helps, and I think just being in and around that standard of player and playing against top class players, if I do start playing, can only help me learn and develop even further.

“It felt quite natural really, because I am used to training with top quality players when I was at United, so that helped.

“The standard of training was really good but that helps you lift your game.

“While it is a completely different environment, I probably knew eight of the lads from Man United, loans and the Under-21s so that helped.

“I knew the manager as well, who I had worked from the Under-21s for two years, so I felt very welcomed from early on and I couldn’t wait to go and play.”

Keane added: “It’s a dream come true. It was special last time, it was my best feeling in football when I got the call-up, but to be in the initial squad is even better because it feels like I have deserved it even more.

“I had to take it in my stride. It was brilliant to be called up. It was a dream of mine and and it was probably the best moment of my career so far when I got that phone call.”

The next ambition for Keane is to make a start for his country on the international stage, and there is the potential for his Under-21 partnership with Manchester City’s John Stones to be rekindled.

“I hope so,” he said.

“We played together for 18 months for the Under 21s and did really well together.

“I was very surprised at the actual Euros that he didn’t play, but that is one of those things that happens, but maybe in the future that could happen.”

Meanwhile, with England top of their group having taken seven points from their opening three fixtures, Keane is backing his nation to make an impact in Russia should they go on and confirm qualification as expected.

“We have got the players there to go and win these big tournaments,” he said.

“It’s about doing it on the big stage.

“We seem to qualify easily enough but come to a big tournament we seem to struggle.

“I think the first game is always big, if you can get that first win in a major tournament it does a lot for confidence.

“I thought even in the summer they would kick on.

“But once you don’t win that first game, there can be a bad feeling among the fans thinking, ‘Oh, here we go again’. So hopefully in the World Cup in a couple of years we can do well.”