Preston North End recruited striker Will Keane in the summer transfer window, bringing him in from Wigan Athletic following their relegation from the Championship.
Preston had Keane on loan back in 2015, bringing him in from Manchester United as a youngster. And, after Wigan Athletic were relegated to League One, the Lilywhites took the chance to reunite with the striker.
He’d netted an impressive 12 goals in 43 second-tier games for the struggling Latics, taking his tally for the club to 50 goals in 133 games. As a result of his goalscoring exploits, Keane cut a popular figure among Wigan Athletic fans and upon his exit, many lauded him for his efforts and wished him the best following his move.
Now, speaking to Sky Bet on behalf of The72, Keane has shed light on what it was like to leave the Latics. He said:
“It was tough. It’s always sad to leave a place where you’ve been for a couple of years – I enjoyed a lot of highs.
“The manager who’s in place now is in a better position with the new ownership. I always keep an eye on them, and I know they started this season on negative points, but they are in a better position now and hopefully they can keep progressing up the table.
“It’s never nice to leave a place where you’ve been happy, but I’ll always have fond memories there and I just made the decision for footballing reasons going forward.”
Keane has done well to settle back in at Deepdale since his summer move. The 30-year-old Republic of Ireland international has four goals in eight Championship games, though his momentum was slowed somewhat by an adductor injury he has since recovered from.
Speaking about the decision to join Preston, Keane said he was keen to stay in the second-tier and following talks with Ryan Lowe, he knew Deepdale was the right place for him.
“I felt like if the opportunity came up to stay in the Championship, that was something I really wanted to do,” he said.
“As soon as I heard the interest [from Preston], I felt like it was going to be the next step for me to build on last year. I knew the club previously so I knew what it was all about, and speaking to the manager, I knew that it would be a place that I’d get an opportunity to crack on – a new challenge. It was quite an easy decision, and it’s been really pleasing to get off to a good start.”
As Keane said, Preston have started well this season, sitting 3rd in the Championship table at the time of writing. While they lost three straight prior to the break, their run of eight games to without defeat start the campaign means they’ve maintained a strong standing.
It has led to early talk of a potential promotion push and Keane is happy to entertain those conversations given Preston’s high standards and ambitions.
“Promotion has to be a viable option for us, we set our standards quite high, and the ambition is to be right up there, giving us a good chance. The last couple seasons we’ve been in the mix, but we fell away towards the end – but we have the feeling that with the squad we have, we can be competitive, and we’ve grown a lot in confidence with the start we’ve had this season.
“We had a couple disappointing results before the international break, but the position we find ourselves in is something we’d have taken at the start of the year.
“It’s a long season, there are so many games and we’ve got a block of five games before the next break, so we know we need to add to our tally and keep in the mix, but confidence is strong amongst the squad and it’s a really good atmosphere.”
Preston North End return to action against a managerless Millwall on Saturday afternoon as they bid to get back on track.