Manchester United youth team coach Warren Joyce has backed fit-again striker Will Keane to rediscover his best form and become a "top-drawer" player at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils starlet struck an impressive hat-trick during Tuesday's development squad match against Accrington in the Lancashire Senior Cup, and Joyce hopes that man-of-the-match performance is a sign of things to come for the talented 21-year-old.
Road to recovery
Keane suffered a serious knee injury in 2012 which has hampered his progress over the past two years. He made his senior Manchester United debut in 2011, but has fallen way down the pecking order after struggling to regain full fitness.
However, his recent treble for the club's second string is perhaps a sign that the youngster is finally starting to realise his potential and is now being urged to continue his hard work in a bid to stake his claim for inclusion in the senior team.
"I'm delighted for him and pleased he scored the goals," Joyce is quoted by the Daily Express telling MUTV. "He has had to work very hard for a long time now and it's just the start of his comeback trail really.
"I think he can do more anyway. We've still got to have high demands on him. Because he was such a quality player, there is no point being soft on him and setting his standards lower."
Youth will get their chance
New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has made no secret of his philosophy which places huge emphasis on youth development, and he's already handed first-team opportunities to a number of the club's aspiring academy graduates.
Injury problems have perhaps fast-tracked some emerging stars' promotion into the senior squad, but there is a general belief that if a player proves he is good enough then he'll be afforded a chance to prove himself with a clear pathway into the team.
Joyce certainly believes that Keane - whose twin brother Michael, a centre-back by trade, has been sent out on loan to newly-promoted Burnley for 2014/15 - has the potential to kick-on, despite the increased competition for places in attack.
"He has got to have high standards because he was a top-drawer player," he added. "There were even some angry words for him at half time but he's got to keep working away, putting in the shifts in the training ground and putting the work in to get back to where he was."
Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck were forced out of Old Trafford due to a lack of regular action, and the arrival of Colombian marksman Radamel Falcao has given Manchester United one of the most fearsome forward lines in Europe with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie also jostling for a starting spot.
Keane certainly has his work cut out to get himself noticed by Van Gaal, particularly after the recent rise of fellow scholar James Wilson, but there is a growing belief within the reserve ranks that the striker is getting back to his best.
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