Date: 22nd August 2016 at 3:39pm
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I need to hold my hands up.

In this column back when Burnley were last in the top-flight, I wrote Michael Keane off as not good enough for the Premier League, now the young centre-half could be the key element as to why the Clarets excel this season.

The quality of Keane is meant to be our little secret at Turf Moor and it doesn’t help that Rio Ferdinand is alerting the rest of the country, tweeting about the rave reviews the Clarets number five is getting.

It would not surprise me if Keane is called up to the national team by Sam Allardyce in a couple of weeks as the new England gaffer knows his way around North-West football.

The £2.18m spent by Sean Dyche on Keane now looks an absolute masterstroke. I am a firm believer that if you put Keane and his partner Ben Mee in the Liverpool back line on Saturday, it would have improved their rear guard immeasurably.

When alongside previous Burnley captain Jason Shackell, positioning used to let Keane down as he constantly got caught under the ball, but manager Dyche now seems to have drummed that out of him. That and he has grown into a towering centre-half.

I kept a close eye on the 23-year-old against Jurgen Klopp’s men and he reads the game better than anyone I have seen at Turf Moor. He is also deceptively quick, dominant in the air and glides out of defence with the ball akin to the aforementioned Ferdinand.

Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Could Burnley defender Keane earn a spot in Allardyce’s first England squad next week? Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

What I also like about him is his temperament; he only picked up three bookings in the promotion campaign and with Burnley under pressure to the tune of 19.4% possession, Keane gave just the one foul away against the Reds, which was miracle in itself with Lee Mason in charge.

If you couple that with his goal threat, five last season and he would be off the mark this year but for a Leroy Fer tug on his shirt – you have the complete modern day central defender on your hands.

The test will come for Keane in the form of an Alvaro Negredo rather than a Daniel Sturridge, a wily striker who can use physicality as opposed to a tricky forward who is the focal point of a six-man midfield.

Looking back, Burnley had Gary Cahill on loan at the club over ten years ago and Keane operates at a higher level in my opinion than the current Chelsea man did whilst at the club.

Speaking post-match, former Liverpool man and talkSPORT pundit David Thompson said that Klopp should get in Dyche’s ear and put in a bid for the Burnley’s “immense” number five.

Wishful thinking, but I believe Keane’s stock will grow with every Premier League appearance he makes.

Dyche alluded to “Dean Marney and the back four” having stand out games, but this was orchestrated by Keane who was consistently in the right spot to nullify Liverpool attacks.

Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Dyche’s Clarets impressively saw off Liverpool 2-0 on Saturday – Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Mee is a perfect partner for Keane as he knows his limitations. You will not find a player in the Premier League with more passion, and what the former Manchester City man can do, he does very well.

With Chelsea on the horizon, Keane and Mee will come up against one of the strongest centre-half partnerships in Premier League history. However, John Terry’s and Cahill’s star is on the way down and I expect the Clarets number five especially to make his mark at Stamford Bridge.

The headline writers may have used all their ink up on the trials and tribulations of Andre Gray after the weekend, but they should save a few column inches for the Burnley back line who may just surprise a few outside of Turf Moor this season.

 
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