Striker Will Keane has revealed it was a chat with Stuart Gray which convinced him to move to Sheffield Wednesday on loan from Manchester United.
The Stockport-born player, who has come through the ranks at Old Trafford having joined them as a 10-year-old, will stay at Hillsborough for the remainder of the 2014/15 season.
Keane told The Star he learned of the Owls’ interest in him a “few weeks ago” and is relishing the prospect of playing a key role in their play-off tilt.
He said: “I had a few options but I spoke to the manager and I knew straight away I wanted to come here.
“He (Gray) was a big factor in my decision to come here. I spoke to him a few days before the deal was completed and he said he would really like to bring me in and would give me some game time.
“I think he has seen me play quite a bit and has tracked me for a while. He feels like this move will benefit me and hopefully with my qualities I can help the team.
“I know the team play good attacking football and they have been creating a lot of chances. Hopefully as a striker I can capitalise on that and get a few goals.
“The team is not too far off the play-offs so hopefully, if we can put a few good results together, we can keep creeping up the table and get ourselves around that top six.”
Although he signed a new three-year contract with United last summer, Keane has not featured for the Premier League giants since December 2011. He has since had loan spells with Wigan Athletic and Queens Park Rangers.
“I have been in and around United’s first-team for quite a while,” said the former England Under-21 international. “It’s frustrating that I’ve not had many opportunities but it has been a good chance for me to listen and learn off a lot of the best players.
“Training day in day out with them also helps. Quite a few youngsters have had their opportunity at United this season and done well.
“When you are at a top club like United, you know you have to be patient at times and there is a lot of competition.
“I now feel like I am ready for the next step up which is playing week in week out.
“Once Wednesday came in for me, I just felt this would be the best thing for me to get back out there and hopefully get as many games as possible because that’s how I’m going to develop as a player.
“If I do well with Wednesday, hopefully I will get recognised and I might get an opportunity at United next season. I spoke to the United manager (Louis Van Gaal) and the club felt the best thing for my development would be to go out on loan and get some games.
“I know I have to prove myself here before even thinking of United and getting in their team.”
Keane becomes Wednesday’s second signing of the January transfer window, following in the footsteps of Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker.
“I’m really happy to have joined Wednesday; it’s a big club with huge history,” he said. “I know they are pushing to get back to the top of English football. I know they have got big ambitions. They have got a great stadium and fanbase and I’m hoping to help them to get to where they want to be.”
Keane, a boyhood United fan, has outlined the attributes he will bring to the Owls, who sit in ninth position in the Championship.
He said: “I would like to think of myself as quite a technical player. I’m a goalscorer.
“I like to play up front, either with another striker, or play on my own and lead the line. I can hold the ball up well and bring others into play. I’m a good finisher and the main reason I’ve come here is to score goals. I will do my best and give everything I can for Sheffield Wednesday.”
The 22-year-old said he is happy to play wherever he is required. He is expected to challenge Stevie May, Atdhe Nuhiu and Caolan Lavery for a starting berth.
Keane, who will train with his new teammates for the first time today, said: “I’m quite flexible.
“He (Gray) knows what my best attributes are. I think he sees me in a central role. Whether that’s in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 I’m not too sure. I will have to see what happens.
“He knows I can play either as a number nine or number 10.”