No holding back PNE midfielder

Alan Browne in action against Bournemouth

Alan Browne in action against Bournemouth

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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has shelved plans to develop Alan Browne into a holding midfielder and will instead use the youngster in a box-to-box role.

In the summer, Grayson had toyed with the idea of playing Browne in the deeper role, similar to the one John Welsh operates in.

He has now decided that such a switch might be better a little later in the Irishman’s career and at the moment is best served playing a more attacking game.

Grayson told the Evening Post: “We looked at it in the summer and thought that because of Browney’s size, tackling ability and energy, we would like to try and play him in a holding role.

“We were thinking of that John Welsh role, just in front of the back four, protecting the defenders.

“But that role, as simple as it sounds, does take some understanding of the game.

PNE v AFC Bournemouth

“Browney has got youthful exuberance and energy which you cannot take away from him – he wants to run around.

“We have moved him back into a more advanced role in a two where he can get forward and also help break things up.

“He has got an eye for goal too so at this moment in time, we see him as a box-to-box player.

“Maybe in a few more years when he understands the game a little bit better, Browney could probably play as a good holding midfield player.”

Browne had started PNE’s last two games and was arguably man of the match against Bournemouth. His inclusion at Brentford last Saturday was his first league start of 2015.

This time last year, Browne was a regular pick in the North End midfield but dropped out of contention after Christmas.

He went from the end of January until May without making a first-team appearance but returned to the squad for the second leg of the play-off semi-final.

Browne then played an hour of the play-off final at Wembley as a sub, replacing the injured Paul Gallagher.

Said Grayson: “Young lads do go through peaks and troughs in the early stages of their careers.

“It is how they respond when they are out of the team which is important.

“We have a group of good young players who work ever so hard in training and are desperate to get back in.

“Browney is still learning the game, as Josh Brownhill is.

“Sometimes reasons beyond their control mean they lose their place in the team.

“In Browney’s case, he dropped out around the time we brought Daniel Johnson in.

“I think DJ’s record speaks for itself about how well he did after he signed – that is the level of competition people are up against.

“Against Bournemouth, Browney was of those players who you would say was close to being man of the match.

“He’s a very good footballer and we were delighted with the way he played.”