It was reported over the Bank Holiday weekend that talented young Manchester United striker, Will Keane, will not play again this calendar year after being stretchered off in England Under 19s 1-0 win over Switzerland last Wednesday night. Falling heavily after a challenge, the 19-year-old ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments and is not expected to make a return until at least 2013.
It is, however, possibly Sir Alex Ferguson’s reaction to Keane’s injury that has made this case all the more intriguing. Speaking shortly after the news was announced, Ferguson said, “I’m very, very disappointed for the lad. He was in the first team squad for next season.” Keane was prolific for United’s reserve side in the 2011/12 season and even made his first team debut in the 3-2 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Eve.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that he was likely to form part of Ferguson’s plans for next year, but now that injury rules him out, what does this mean for United’s remaining attacking options?
Keane’s planned inclusion suggests that the club has no intention of spending to bolster this area of the squad, but with Michael Owen already searching for a new employer and Dimitar Berbatov’s exit seemingly imminent, United appear lightweight in an attacking sense.
Little needs to be said about Wayne Rooney; back to blistering goalscoring form last season with a total of 35 in all competitions, Rooney is once again United’s star man. Hoping for a successful international campaign with England this summer, the club’s number ten can be sure that whatever attacking combination Sir Alex opts for next year, it will be built around him.
Danny Welbeck is a firm favourite in the red half of Manchester and with forty appearances this year, he is now established as part of the first team set-up. However, for all his willingness to run, hassle defenders and his tidy link-up play, a return of twelve goals is less than extraordinary for the twenty-one-year-old. There were glimpses over the course of the season that a strike partnership was beginning to form with Rooney, but Welbeck needs to add more to his game in order to take some of the pressure off the club’s highest-paid player.