Liverpool and Manchester City remain a long way clear of Manchester United even as they make progress, acknowledges Roy Keane.
Roy Keane sees cause for optimism in Manchester United's progress over recent months but still believes they have "a long way back" before challenging Liverpool or Manchester City.
United have endured an inconsistent season under Keane's former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, yet the 20-time English champions headed into the coronavirus-enforced break in form.
The Old Trafford outfit are unbeaten in 11 and up to fifth in the Premier League, inspired by the January arrival of midfielder Bruno Fernandes.
Ex-captain Keane is looking for United to have a strong finish to the season, but he recognises there remains a sizeable gap to rivals Liverpool and City, the runaway league leaders and defending champions respectively.
"I think there's certainly a feel-good factor back at United over the past number of games," Keane told Sky Sports.
"Also, in the back of your mind, you're thinking if [Paul] Pogba can get back, people like [Marcus] Rashford can get fit towards the end of the season, that would be a big boost for them.
"So there's definitely a feel-good factor, but there's still a long way back for United yet. I still think they're a long way behind City and, obviously, Liverpool.
"The signs are a lot better than six months ago, 12 months ago. The signings have all settled in very, very well and will only get better with time.
"If they can have a good finish to the season - if we get back to playing games - and if they can get one or two very good players again in the summer, then that's another big step.
"I always think in terms of their recovery, there's still a bit to go yet."
United have been linked with Jadon Sancho ahead of the coming transfer window, yet Keane believes their shortcomings are in defence.
"Whenever we talk about the big clubs, everyone always talks about attacking players," he said. "I still think they need one or two defenders.
"I'm still not convinced with the centre-halves, I'm certainly not convinced with [left-back Luke] Shaw. I think [Brandon] Williams has done well as a young kid, even though he's right-footed playing on that side."