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No old pals' act for Rovers' former Leicester defender Michael Keane
MICHAEL Keane would like nothing more than to see Leicester City banish the memory of the most dramatic play-off defeat in the history of the Championship.
But that will not stop the Blackburn Rovers defender from doing his best to halt his former club’s seemingly inexorable march to the title when they roll into Ewood Park tomorrow.
Keane was part of the Foxes team that lost to Watford in the most of extraordinary of fashions in last season’s play-off semi-finals.
Leicester took a 1-0 lead into the second leg at Vicarage Road and, with the score at 2-1 to the Hornets, had the chance to equalise and seal their place in the Wembley final when they were awarded an injury-time penalty.
But Anthony Knockaert saw his spot-kick saved and within 20 seconds Watford striker Troy Deeney had scored to secure his side an incredible 3-2 aggregate victory.
The Foxes, according to Keane, were left 'devastated' and 'heartbroken'.
But the 21-year-old, after returning to his parent club Manchester United, had no doubt they would come back stronger this season.
He has been proved correct.
Leicester come into tomorrow’s clash with Rovers on the back of a 16-match unbeaten league run which has seen them open up a seven-point lead at the top.
Keane is delighted Nigel Pearson’s men are now almost certain of reaching the top-flight.
But the England U21s international will have no split loyalties tomorrow as Rovers attempt to pull off a shock win which would serve as a massive boost to their outside play-off chances.
“I’m really happy they have done well because it was devastating last season the way we lost in the play-offs,” said Keane, who has impressed in his three games for Rovers since signing on loan from United.
“So to see them bounce back the way they have done is really good and I hope they can continue that and go up – but only after this weekend.
“The defeat to Watford was heartbreaking for everyone involved but you’ve just got to learn from it and you can see that they have done.
“I knew they were capable of it. I did an interview at the end of last season saying I thought they could go up automatically this season.
“It was a similar quality team last season but we just lacked that bit of consistency. They’ve got that now and I’m happy for them.
“They are a very good team but in this league anyone can beat anyone so we’ll be going into the game believing we can beat them and put their run to an end.
“Somebody has got to do it, why can’t it be us?”
Keane knows one of the keys to Rovers winning tomorrow will be stopping Foxes front men David Nugent and Jamie Vardy, who have 34 goals between them this season.
“They work really well together and work off each other and maybe that’s something we were missing last year because Vardy wasn’t playing,” said Keane, whose ability to play out from the back was evident last Saturday when he set up two goals in Rovers’ 4-2 victory at Huddersfield Town.
“He’s made a massive difference coming into the team this year.
“Both never stop running, work really hard and flick the ball to each other all the time – and it always seems to come off for them.
“So it’s going to be tough at the weekend but, like anyone you play against. you have got to do your best to stop them and I think we can if we play like we know we can.”
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