International caps for PNE duo

Will Hayhurst played twice for Republic of Ireland Under-21s
Will Hayhurst played twice for Republic of Ireland Under-21s
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Preston North End pair Will Hayhurst and Alan Browne collected more international experience after playing in the Republic of Ireland Under-21s side.

Hayhurst featured in both of Ireland’s games – which were played in Marbella, Spain – on Saturday and Monday.

After playing in North End’s defeat to Bradford, Browne joined up with the Irish squad on Sunday and was involved in the second game.

In Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to the United States, Hayhurst played the second half after coming on as a half-time substitute.

He came off the bench for a shorter spell towards the end of Monday’s 2-2 draw with Russia.

Browne started the game against the Russians and played for 76 minutes before being substituted.

Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson had negotiated with the Irish coaching staff to have Browne available for the Bradford game and then for the teenager to fly out to Spain to play in the second game.

Hayhurst was in a slightly different position, as the player had been on the fringes of the North End squad lately.

It was more beneficial for him to be available for both matches and he got some game time under his belt.

The 20-year-old local lad has made nine appearances for PNE this season, four of those being starts.

He last featured as a late substitute in October’s 2-0 win over Port Vale at Deepdale.

In recent games Hayhurst has made the travelling squad but not been included in the matchday 18.

He has plenty of competition for a place on the left wing. Callum Robinson has been operating on that side of the pitch in recent weeks, while Kyel Reid is another option for the 
left-hand side.

Earlier in the campaign, Paul Gallagher had that role to the left of the main striker, before moving inside to the No.10 position.

Now they are back from duty with Ireland, Hayhurst and Browne’s focus will now be on helping North End find some form after their three successive league defeats.

A tough assignment awaits them this weekend, with a trip to Ashton Gate to face leaders Bristol City.

The Robins themselves are looking to bounce back to form after suffering their first league defeat of the season at the hands of Swindon.

City manager Steve Cotterill was not too downhearted by the loss when looking at the overall picture of the season.

Ex-Burnley boss Cotterill said: “Had you offered me that at the start of the season, I would have taken it, for sure.

“To be able to talk about the lads in such a positive manner after our first defeat is really pleasing.

“They are a really honest bunch of lads and they have been fantastic all season.

“People keep asking me can we bounce back from this?

“What is there to bounce back from? We’re top of the league, went 16 games unbeaten and have just lost for the first time.

“That’s not a bad position to be in and I’d take that every day.

“I know they are hurting and that they were proud of their unbeaten record but they have nothing to feel down about.”