The story behind Will Keane wearing the Ipswich Town No.48 shirt
PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 August 2019
Will Keane has taken the No.48 shirt for his second spell at Ipswich Town. Andy Warren looks at the reasons why.
The striker re-signed for the Blues as a free agent on Tuesday, on a 12-month deal with an option for a further year, and was presented to the Portman Road crowd prior to kick-off against AFC Wimbledon that evening.
Keane, 26, scored three goals in 12 games during his first Town spell, which was hit by hamstring problems which brought his stay to an end.
He scored those goals wearing the No.14 jersey but, with that now belonging to Jack Lankester after a summer reshuffle, another number was required.
Options were few. Numbers three and six are more commonly reserved for defenders and he rightly stayed well clear, with no other numbers lower than 37 free
Bartosz Bialkowski and Aaron Drinan are out on loan but they remain fixed to their No.33 and No.25 shirts due to registration with the EFL, so they were out.
So he'll now wear No.48.
Keane's number is now the highest in the Town squad and they needed the choice to be ratified by the EFL, given lower numbers were available.
This isn't the Wild West, or a lawless state. There are regulations in place to stop players from wearing numbers in the 70s, 80s and 90s, for example, which has been common place in leagues such as Italy's Serie A.
For the record, Jonny Williams is the highest-numbered player in Ipswich history after he wore 50 during the 2014/15 season while Simon Dawkins briefly held the No.49 jersey last season.
But 48 does come with some real significance for Keane - and not just because it forms part of his Instagram handle.
That was his number during his days at Manchester United, with 48 allocated to him as a teenager during the 2011/12 season and remaining with him throughout his time at Old Trafford until his departure for Hull in the summer of 2016. He even wore it during a brief loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday.
Keane had 48 on his back when he made his Manchester United senior debut in December 2011, when he came on as a late substitute in a 3-2 home loss to Blackburn Rovers, and also when he scored his first professional goal, for Wednesday against Cardiff in February 2015.
He wore No.19 with the Tigers but his return to 48 represents a nod to better times, after his spell with the Championship side was blighted by injury.
He appeared just three times for the Red Devils' first-team, twice as a Premier League substitute and once in the FA Cup, but he was highly decorated in their youth ranks as he learnt his trade from the best.
Keane made his debut for the Under 18s at just 14-years-old and eventually worked his way into the club's reserve team, then managed by current first-team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
His efforts in the 2009/10 season saw him win the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award, given to the club's best performer at age group level, which saw him follow in the footsteps of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Danny Welbeck. Marcus Rashford has won it since.
So the No.48 is a happy place for Keane, which the Blues will be hoping is a good omen for the future at Portman Road.
He is likely to make his first appearance in a Town shirt this Friday when the Blues' Under 23s take on Leeds at Playford Road.
Ipswich Town's 2019/20 squad numbers
1: Tomáš Holy
2: Janoi Donacien
4: Luke Chambers
5: James Wilson
7: Gwion Edwards
8: Cole Skuse
9: Kayden Jackson
10: James Norwood
11: Jon Nolan
12: Will Norris
13: Harry Wright
14: Jack Lankester
15: Teddy Bishop
16: Tristan Nydam
17: Danny Rowe
18: Alan Judge
19: Jordan Roberts
20: Freddie Sears
21: Flynn Downes
22: Toto Nsiala
23: Andre Dozzell
24: Kane Vincent-Young
25: Aaron Drinan
26: Idris El Mizouni
27: Josh Emmanuel
28: Luke Woolfenden
29: Luke Garbutt
30: Myles Kenlock
31: Adam Przybek
32: Corrie Ndaba
33: Bartosz Bialkowski
34: Ben Folami
35: Ben Morris
36: Armando Dobra
37: Barry Cotter
38: Anthony Georgiou
44: Emyr Huws
46: Bailey Clements
48: Will Keane