Preston North End midfielder Josh Brownhill believes that he is feeling the benefit of a fitness boot camp which he attended in the summer.
The 18-year-old has caught the eye in pre-season, scoring in PNE’s last three friendly matches.
He will be aiming to make it four in four when North End face Morecambe at the Globe Arena tonight (7.30pm).
Brownhill told the Evening Post: “Over the summer we got given a fitness programme by the club which I did.
“I also did quite a lot of other stuff. I went away on a fitness camp which got me into very good shape.
“That was in the Lake District, my agent took a few of the lads who he represents up there.
“We did a fitness camp for a couple of days and it is paying off at the moment.
“There was hill running and a lot of circuit training, but there was also canoeing and mountain-biking which was a lot of fun.
“It has helped me during pre-season training because the work has been very tough.
“I feel sharp and ready, and hopefully I can get some more minutes on the pitch in the next three friendlies.
“I’m looking forward to the Morecambe game tonight, that will be a good test for us.”
Brownhill’s three goals against Liverpool, Bamber Bridge and Halifax during the past week have come in just 117 minutes on the pitch.
He played the first half in the Liverpool and Halifax games, and was a 63rd minute substitute in the Brig clash.
On current form, Brownhill seems a certain starter when the season kicks-off in just over a fortnight’s time.
While North End boss Simon Grayson has an open mind about his team, he admits that some players have caught the eye of late.
Grayson said: “Certainly one or two are staking a claim for a place in the team which starts the season. “That is pleasing to see, although there is still a couple of weeks to go.”
It will be a very strong squad which the manager will send to
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Morecambe tonight. He won’t push anyone to complete 90 minutes at this stage, and is likely to stick to what he did against Halifax.
At the Shay, Grayson made four substitutions at half-time and seven more just after the hour mark.
Him and his coaching staff are trying to give the squad the same amount of time on the pitch during the pre-season friendly programme.
The only players unable to play at present are Lee Holmes, Paul Huntington and Kyel Reid.
Holmes is nursing a pectoral muscle strain and Huntington fractured a bone in his wrist in the Liverpool game.
Reid will see a specialist shortly to hopefully get the green light to start full training again after surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament.
Brownhill enjoyed being part of a midfield diamond system which North End played with at Halifax.
He said: “The diamond allowed us more possession which was good.
“I have not seen the exact statistics but I’m sure that our possession in the first half was quite high.
“We created a lot of chances and could have been four or five goals ahead at half-time.
“Jack King played in the holding role, then it was Neil Kilkenny and myself, with Paul Gallagher in the hole.
“We got on the ball, there was a lot of rotation and I thought we played well.
“These games are getting us fitter as the start of the season approaches, and we should be in good shape for Notts County on the first day.”
North End supporters will get a choice of seating or standing at Morecambe.
Seats are priced £12 adults, £9 concessions and £5 juniors, while the terrace is £10, £7 and £3 respectively.
There is an offer for fans aged under 14.
An adult who buys their own ticket from the Globe Arena club shop can claim up to three Under-14s tickets free of charge – the offer is not available on the turnstiles.
Morecambe have arranged a friendly against Scottish Premier League side Kilmarnock on August 2.
The Shrimps had been due to play Bradford in a friendly that day, but it was postponed when the sides were drawn together in the first round of Capital One cup. Kilmarnock’s visit will have a 2pm kick-off.
Chorley are in action against a Bolton Wanderers XI at Victory Park tomorrow afternoon (3pm).
The sides will compete for the Harold Taylor Memorial Trophy.
The Magpies beat Fleetwood 2-1 on Tuesday night with Jack Dorney and Jake Cattrell on target.
Next week, Chorley have friendlies away at Salford and Accrington Stanley.