Will Keane
Will Keane played his second game for the United U21’s after being recalled midway through his loan with PrestonGetty

Manchester United striker Will Keane has handed Louis van Gaal a timely boost after scoring a hat-trick for the Red Devils U21 side in their game against Reading at Adams Park on 11 January. The young forward was recalled midway through his loan spell at Preston North End to add depth to the club's forward line, and this performance could see him get an opportunity to stake claim for a place in the senior squad during the second half of the season.

The appearance against the Royals was his second after rejoining United at the start of the year, and the Dutch manager would have surely taken notice ahead of their games against Newcastle United and Liverpool in the next five days. He is, however, unlikely to feature against the Magpies owing to the proximity of the two clashes, but could be involved for their trip to Anfield on 17 January.

The 20-time English champions have been struggling to score goals on a consistent basis this season, with Wayne Rooney and summer arrival Anthony Martial struggling for form. The duo have notched up just eight goals in a combined 31 appearances this season in the Premier League, which is a cause for concern as they bid to get back in the top four.

United are currently in fifth place, nine points off leaders Arsenal, and two behind fourth placed Tottenham. Their struggle in front of the goal was highlighted when they needed a last gasp penalty to beat League One side Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round on 9 January.

The 3-1 win over the Reading U21's has seen the defending champions leap frog their opponents and move into second spot nine points behind Sunderland, who have played four games more than United in the U21 Premier League.