Dan’s the man says PNE ace

Alan Browne congratulates scorer Daniel Johnson
Alan Browne congratulates scorer Daniel Johnson
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Alan Browne has praised the goalscoring instincts of Preston North End midfield partner Daniel Johnson.

The £50,000 bargain buy is in a rich vein of form, having found the net five times in the last seven games.

Johnson is PNE’s leading scorer by some way and has stepped up impressively to the Championship.

He scored eight goals last season after his January move from Aston Villa, four of them in successive games.

Browne has started the last three games alongside Johnson in the engine room, which is likely to extend to a fourth against Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.

“DJ has been incredible this season, a massive player for us,” Browne told the Evening Post.

“He always seems to pop up in a bit of space and that left foot of his is a sweet one.

“The shooting you see in a game is what we see from him every day in training.

“DJ has an eye for goal and it is good that we have that.

“He has stepped up very well to this level, which is not a surprise.

“We all saw what he did last season – DJ scored a lot of goals and played a big part in us getting promoted.

“Hopefully he can continue with that form and help us put a few results together to get us up the table.”

Four of Johnson’s goals have come in the league, the other being an extra-time penalty against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup last week.

Only five players in the Championship – all strikers – can better Johnson’s tally in the league.

While Johnson has been a regular choice ever since he arrived, Browne is only just back in starting contention in the Preston midfield.

The Irishman’s start against Brentford was his first in the league since the end of December.

But despite spending much of the second half of last season out of contention, he can still boast more than 50 appearances in a PNE shirt.

That is a decent statistic for a player who this time two years ago, was still playing Under-19s football for Cork.

Browne, who signed a new three-year contract in the summer, said: “Plenty has happened since I came here. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

“It was around this time two years ago that Preston began to show an interest in me.

“I came over for a trial for a week or two, and after that they said they wanted to offer me something.

“Because of the transfer window, I had to wait a few weeks to sign.

“In that time I continued to train with the squad and, looking back, that really helped me settle in.

“I was able to get to know the lads and the club without the pressure of playing.”

Browne has been named in the Republic of Ireland Under-21s squad to face Lithuania and Italy in Euro 2017 qualifiers.

Click here for EXCLUSIVE Daniel Johnson column