Josh Earl praises Greg Cunningham's wise words after impressive Preston debut

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Josh Earl praised Greg Cunningham’s guidance after impressing in place of the injured captain on his Preston North End debut.

The 18-year-old first-year professional was given the nod at left back for the 1-0 win over Reading after it was announced pre-match that Cunningham was set for an extended period on the sidelines after knee surgery.

Earl, whose only previous senior football came on loan at Lancaster City in the Northern Premier League last season, looked assured at Deepdale as he was handed his first taste of the Championship.

“Greg’s been great with me, he’s spoken to me a lot,” said Earl, who joined PNE as a nine-year-old.

“He’s helped bring me through and so has Tommy Spurr because I played alongside him in pre-season.

“Greg spoke to me on Friday as well which was really good of him.

Josh Earl on the ball during his Preston debut against Reading.

Josh Earl on the ball during his Preston debut against Reading.

“Some people would push you aside or not be that nice because it’s their position that you’re playing in but Greg was really good with me.

“What’s happened is very unlucky for Greg and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“It’s lucky for me because I’ve found a way to get into the team and this is just the start of something now.

“I’ve just got to try and keep my shirt.”

A solid display that earned rave reviews from his manager Alex Neil will have done the Southport teenager no harm at all.

“There were a lot of nerves but I was really excited as well,” said Earl.

“I felt as though I was ready because I think I did quite well in pre-season.

“I think it was the right time to do it.

“The only senior football I’d had before pre-season was at Lancaster so it was a big step up.

“But I think I stepped up quite well and I enjoyed it.”

As for the game as a whole, Neil’s side should have added to Jordan Hugill’s first-half goal but saw chances come and go after the break.

It mattered not though as they continued their impressive start to the new season.

“I feel defensively and as a team we did really well because they’ve got a lot of pace up front,” Earl said.

“It was a really good performance and we could have had four or five.

“Beating Reading like this shows we’re no mugs and that we are pushing this season.”