PNE’s midfield strength

Josh Brownhill

Josh Brownhill

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Simon Grayson thinks Preston North End’s midfield is the area of his squad which has the greatest depth.

The PNE manager has six players currently pushing for the engine-room slots, with January buy Liam Grimshaw a seventh option when he is fit.

Josh Brownhill, currently enjoying a successful loan spell with Barnsley and close to agreeing a new contract, is another player who can be added to the equation.

For the last four matches, Paul Gallagher, Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson have been the chosen midfield trio in Grayson’s starting XI.

On the bench, he has had Ben Pearson, John Welsh and Neil Kilkenny as cover.

Pearson, who lost his place in the XI after suspension, has come off the bench in two of the last three games.

“Midfield is a really strong area of the squad,” Grayson told the Evening Post.

“We have got different types in there – ball winners, energy and passing players.

“They can all fit into whatever shape of the side we decide to play.

“You need different styles, there is no point having three midfielders who are very similar.

“We have had a nice balance with Gally as the passer, DJ the attack-minded one and Browney is a bit of both.

“Others have come on during games to help us change things.

“We have still got Liam Grimshaw to come in, he is making good progress with the physios after his operation.”

Grayson has Brownhill in his longer-term plans, with him delighted to see the youngster getting a regular run of games at Barnsley.

He has made 10 starts and one substitute’s appearance for the Tykes in their rise from the League One relegation zone to the edge of the play-off places.

Brownhill is being regularly watched by PNE scouts, with assistant manager Glynn Snodin at Oakwell during the week to see Barnsley’s win against Coventry.

“Snods said that Josh did really well on Tuesday night,” said Grayson.

“It is working extremely well for him and extremely well for us because he needed games.

“We think a lot of Josh and he will come back to us.

“I think we are close to doing a new contract with him.

“Josh burst on to the scene here, did very well and then stood still a little bit.

“That is why we got him the loan to Barnsley for some regular football.

“Given that we have only had 19 players available for some games over the last few weeks, we could quite easily have brought Josh back.

“But that would not have benefited him or us unless he came straight back into our starting XI.

“Loans can benefit certain players, the younger ones especially.

“Ben Davies is playing regularly for Newport County, helping them get results, Nick Anderton is up at Barrow.

“It is better for them to get game time.”