Ferdinand thinks Manchester United may have already found his replacement

by Tracey Germaine

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has backed young centre-back Michael Keane to ‘become a top player one day‘ as the 21-year-old looks to establish himself at Old Trafford.

The departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, coupled with the injury prone nature of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, may well present an opportunity for the young defender to establish himself in the heart of Manchester United’s defence next season.

Keane’s willingness to learn should stand him in good stead with new manager Louis van Gaal who is known for bringing through young players and his chance to impress could come during the pre-season tour to America.

“I’ve heard the new manager likes to bring young players through and that’s always been the way at United,” said Keane.

“Obviously with Giggsy staying on as his assistant that can only benefit the young players and hopefully we can get a good pre-season and a chance to prove ourselves.”

The Stockport-born defender came through the youth ranks at United and although he has yet to make a Premier League appearance, he has made three appearances in the League Cup, making his debut as a substitute against Aldershot Town in October 2011.

He has spent time on loan at Leicester City and Derby County and most recently enjoyed a spell at Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season where he scored three goals in 13 appearances.

Having spent a large portion of the last two seasons on loan, being sent out for yet another spell away from the club may not be a good sign for Keane’s long-term United future but that being said, a loan to a Premier League club would certainly show signs of progress.

However, it is unlikely he will be allowed leave if United fail to bolster the defence with Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones the only recognised first team cover for the two central defensive positions.

Reports have emerged that Huddersfield Town have made inquiries about his availability. Terriers boss and former United striker Mark Robins is keen on bringing the 21-year-old to the John Smith’s Stadium to strengthen his side’s defence and Blackburn are also rumoured to be interested in taking him on loan for the 2014/15 season.

Whether Keane returns to Blackburn or not is dependent on Van Gaal and the United coaches and what they consider his future position to be. The acquisition of another defender, be it Stefan de Vrij or Thomas Vermaelen, would limit routes into the first team and along with competition from fellow United youngster Tom Thorpe, he may end up having to look for pastures new for the sake of his own career progression.

Would you like to see Michael Keane given the opportunity to establish himself in United’s first team or would another loan spell do him good?

Image: Twitter/southamptonfc

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