Keane spent a short, unsuccessful loan spell with Steve McClaren's side, and was duly sent back to Old Trafford in late January after the rams sealed the temporary signing of West Bromwich Albion midfielder George Thorne.
Yet in a bid to rediscover his form - and put himself in the thoughts of United manager David Moyes - Keane will head out on loan to Blackburn Rovers, where he will go straight into the squad for this weekend's big East Lancashire derby against Burnley.
At 21, Keane needs to be playing first-team football in a bid to kickstart his career which has so far been spent in Manchester United's reserves, though he did have a successful loan spell at Leicester City, and has also impressed for the England Under 21 side, scoring three goals in eight appearances.
This could be the most vital spell of Keane's short career so far, with his United chances looking increasingly bleak. Keane has made just three appearances for the Manchester United first team, and even though fellow central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic look set to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season, United have been linked with a plethora of defenders - which will almost certainly make Keane's path to the first team even more difficult.
A successful spell with Blackburn would potentially show that Keane is ready to make a step up, and a career trajectory similar to Tom Cleverley could be on the horizon. Cleverley spent a loan spell with Leicester in the Championship before eventually spending time with Wigan Athletic in the Premier League, gradually progressing his way up to the United first team.
It might not be a great ambition, but at this stage in his career, it might be the best Keane can hope for - but he certainly needs a successful stint at Ewood Park.
image: © Catherine Kõrtsmik