Simon Grayson believes that a ‘love of playing football’ is seeing teenager Alan Browne thrive in Preston North End’s first-team.
There were more plaudits for the midfielder after PNE’s 5-2 victory over Shrewsbury on Easter Monday, a result which lifted them into fourth place.
An impressive display saw the 19-year-old Irishman share the sponsor’s man-of-the-match award with Paul Gallagher.
He won both the penalty and free-kick which were tucked away by Gallagher to help form his hat-trick.
The Shrewsbury game was Browne’s third start on the bounce, a sign of his rapid rise up the midfield pecking order at Deepdale.
With just three substitute appearances to his name before that, the progress made by the Cork boy is impressive.
PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “Everyone was talking about Josh Brownhill a few months ago, and now Alan has come into the team and done equally well.
“I’m really pleased with the way the two young lads have given us everything, and they will only learn from the experience.
“Alan is enjoying what he is doing, from the day he joined the club he has come into training with a smile on his face.
“He loves playing football, really enjoys it, and is thriving on the opportunity of playing for Preston North End.
“The lad gives us something different which perhaps we haven’t had all season.
“Alan can look after the ball, he moves forward well both with the ball and without it.
“He has the hallmarks of a good midfield player.
“You saw in Monday’s game how he likes to get the ball and run at the back four.
“No defender likes a player from the opposition running at them – Alan won the penalty and later the free-kick.
“I thought his performance was worthy of the man-of-the-match award, he was driving us forward from midfield.”
Browne, signed for a small fee from Cork City in January, is set for another start when the Lilywhites host Gillingham at Deepdale on Saturday.
There might well be the odd tweak to the team as Grayson looks to keep the full squad involved.
Leading scorer Joe Garner is one player pushing for a start against the Gills.
Childbirth, injury and illness have restricted the 23-goal striker’s time on the pitch of late.
Garner missed the Carlisle game after his wife went into labour, but would only have been on the bench anyway as he was nursing a calf knock.
The same injury combined with a virus kept him out of last Friday’s defeat to Brentford.
Against Shrewsbury he was a 64th minute substitute, coming off the bench to replace Kevin Davies.
That had been 37-year-old Davies’ first start since last month’s 1-1 draw at Stevenage.
“Joe had only trained for a couple of days before Shrewsbury, so he was never going to start that one,” said Grayson. “But we wanted to give him some game time, hence what we did in putting him on later in the game.
“Kevin Davies showed his experience, he was never going to run around like a spring chicken, but he added something to the team which others don’t.
“We have that luxury of making decisions about who to play up front, whether that be Stuart Beavon, Joe Garner, Craig Davies or Kevin Davies.
“They have all performed well for us and long may that continue over the final part of the season.”