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First Team News

Will Keane Talks Goalscoring, A Change Of Mindset And Family Life

16 August 2023

First Team News

Will Keane Talks Goalscoring, A Change Of Mindset And Family Life

16 August 2023

Eight years on from his first spell at Deepdale, Will Keane has got his second stint off to a flyer.

Back in 2015, North End signed a 22-year-old striker on loan named Will Keane who was still looking to make his mark in senior football. Now, eight years on, Will’s back at Deepdale with 250 appearances to his name and on the back of a prolific couple of years.

Having scored 39 times during the previous two seasons with Wigan Athletic, Will’s goalscoring figures rank among the highest in England during that timeframe, and that tally of just two years trumps the amount of goals he’d scored in his entire career up until the start of the 2021/22 campaign.

He’s really found a way to maximise his potential, play to his strengths, and make himself a player no defence would want to come up against.

While gametime, experience, and better luck with injuries has played a part in that success, the former Manchester United Academy man puts a lot of it down to psychology.

Will said: “Goals are the most important thing to me; I want to go into every game scoring. I’d rather have a not-great game and score a goal, because that’s the cherry on top.

“That’s what ultimately I know I’ll be judged on.

“I’ve realised especially over the past couple of years you have to find different ways of scoring goals and that’s what I’ve been able to do since the last time I was here.

“I’ve worked a lot on my mental toughness and the psychological aspect of it, keeping that positivity and belief in myself to keep going and telling myself the chances are going to come if I keep getting in the right positions.

“I’ve worked with someone privately like a psychologist type – a bit more alternative than a typical psychologist – but working with him has got me in the best frame of mind that I possibly could.

“That’s definitely a big reason why I’ve had a successful couple of years.”

There’s no arguing with that success either, especially during the 2021/22 campaign when Will netted a division-high 26 league goals to help the Latics win the title.

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He then managed to carry that form over to the Championship, getting on the scoresheet 12 times last season, despite playing in a side at the wrong end of the table.

“We had a really good squad for League One and I had a good couple of months at the back end of the season before, so it followed on from then,” Will said.

“We gained momentum and I think everything just fell into place really.

“I think we had the belief we’d win every game and I got on a good goalscoring run and it just seemed to go on and on.

“That’s the beauty of League One and the Championship. There’s just so many games that when you get that momentum you can go on a really good run and, when I look back, it’s probably the best season of my career.

“I’ve done that now at that level and my ambition now is to step up from what I did last year and achieve that at Championship level.”

Before his appearances in the second tier with Wigan last season, Will’s previous highest tally of games in the Championship actually came at Deepdale during the 2015/16 campaign.

It was the club’s first season back after promotion from League One, and Simon Grayson moved to bring Will in from Manchester United on loan.

In 22 appearances for the club, the striker scored twice – with the more notable of those being a superb solo effort in a Lancashire derby victory over Burnley – before being recalled by the Red Devils.

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Now, eight years later, Will feels like he’s still the same player, just more tailored to his strengths.

He commented: “I think now I’ve come in with a lot more behind me in terms of a good couple of years, a lot more league games, and through that I’ve found my fitness and found good form off the back of that.

“I’ve had a couple of good seasons in terms of scoring, and I think all round just gaining that experience, becoming a more mature player and that realisation that I’m the same player, but I’ve learned to prioritise certain aspects of my game.

“I did a lot of analysis during the last few years, getting in the right areas where I’m going to get my goals and I think as you get a bit older you focus on certain things and that’s definitely helped me.”

While back at Deepdale, it’s still somewhat new surroundings for Will, having been at Springfields during his previous spell with North End, and now at the upgraded Euxton training ground.

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There’s plenty of familiar faces, though, in terms of staff and personnel, and with the club now in its ninth campaign back in the Championship, Will has been keeping an eye on PNE’s progress.

He continued: “A lot of that same stability from the first time round is obviously there, but I think eight years on it just feels even more stable.

“It’s become a really solid, stable Championship club that’s looking upwards and with the facilities it’s a big change.

“The other training ground was more than good enough but this one is just another level on top so those small differences help and it shows what the club are trying to do and where they’re trying to go.

“Since the club’s been in the Championship, they’ve been right around the Play-Offs a few times but not quite taken that next step.

“That’s obviously something everyone wants to do and what we need to work towards.”

There to cheer Will and his new teammates towards that objective this season will be his wife and two children, Wilder and the football-obsessed Heath.

“He literally loves it,” laughed Will. “He understands things a lot more during the past few years.

“I’ve got all the Preston kits on order for him so he’s desperate for them. He’s excited to get them.

“I’ve got a little girl too called Wilder who’s just turned 19 months, and she’s started walking around kicking a ball so maybe she’ll be the same!

“They come to a lot of games. My wife comes as much as possible too but it’s obviously not the easiest with two kids at times!

“They love coming and when they can’t I’m always excited when I can come home and tell them that I’ve scored.”


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