Keane flattered by England legends' backing

Clarets centre back Michael Keane is enjoying the backing of two England heroes, as he continues to shine on the Premier League stage.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 10th March 2017, 10:30 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:57 am

Last Monday, Frank Lampard named the 24-year-old in his team of the season while appearing as a Sky Sports pundit for former Chelsea's win at West Ham.And Keane's idol Rio Ferdinand has long been an admirer, hailing him as one of the best three young centre backs in the country, along with John Stones and Eric Dier, while recently stating his belief Manchester United should re-sign the England squad member, as they did Paul Pogba last summer.Keane is flattered by the praise.He said of Lampard's surprise selection: "Yes, it's good to see when a legend like that gives you credit."It's not easy playing in a team that's under the cosh quite a lot, although we've done brilliant, and it's nice to be recognised, with other players that didn't get in that team. "It's good to see a lot of the players like Andre (Gray) getting recognised and Heats (Tom Heaton) and Ben (Mee) for doing really well."Ferdinand was something of a mentor for Keane at United, and he recently put a picture on Instagram of a a young Keane wearing an England shirt, with Ferdinand 5 on the back.Keane smiled: "To be fair I think my brother sent it to him. I like a bit of stick! He was one of my idols growing up."Every kid's done that."But he is a mentor to me. I've known him since I was young and coming through at Man United so he sort of stuck around and helped me out."I'm able to text him or call him when I want, and before big games he'll send me a text and give me a little bit of advice that will just stick in my head."He's been brilliant with me and I'm thankful for that - he's a legend and a great player, and someone I can learn a lot from."It was a bit surreal at first, but it's something that you get used to."I've been around him quite a while now and I feel comfortable asking him questions and talking to him."At first I was a bit in awe of him. You get used to it."Keane is hoping to get used to being in the England set up after making the last two squads, with Gareth Southgate set to name his pool for the games against Germany and Lithuania on Thursday.Earning his first cap is the next target: "Yes, 100%. It's been brilliant being around the squad and I've learned a lot."But the next step is to make my debut."Obviously there's two games coming up, one a friendly with Germany away."I'll have to be in good form, play well the next few games and hope I get called up."The next goal in my head is to make my debut, then after that cement my place in the team."It's not going to be easy, there's a lot of competition, but I've always had that belief in my own ability."Centre back is a relatively strong area for England, with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Stones and Dier in the frame, along with the likes of Keane, Ben Gibson and Harry Maguire emerging as potential full internationals: "While there's competition with the experienced players there's also the younger ones as well."In the next few years who knows who's going to be a regular, so there's a lot to play for."I'm sure Ben (Mee) will be knocking on the door, Harry Maguire will be knocking on it, it's not going to be easy to get in the squad."But you can't expect that playing for your country, especially when it's someone like England."They have top players so you need to be playing well week in, week out."While Keane feels Mee could also earn England recognition, there is speculation Andre Gray could join Keane and Tom Heaton in the squad: "Has that ever been done before at Burnley (three players in an England squad)? It would be special, we'll have to wait and see.

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"It shows how far the club has come in the last few years. There's a lot of international players now, I'm sure the fans are proud of that and it's great to be part of it."