Alan Browne might only have been on the pitch for a short section of Preston North End’s win over Peterborough – but he was the name on many supporters’ lips as they left Deepdale on Tuesday night.
The Irish teenager made his first-team debut as a 78th-minute substitute, with the scoreline 1-1 at the time.
Browne’s contribution was a telling one, he put in a lively display in midfield and setting up Joe Garner for the third goal which sealed victory.
North End fans are likely to see more of him in the coming weeks, with Simon Grayson not afraid to give youth its chance.
The January signing from Cork City was the last substitution of the night made by PNE boss Grayson as he looked to turn a draw into victory.
An early injury to Scott Wiseman had seen Keith Keane come off the bench in the first half.
Lee Holmes joined the action after 63 minutes, then came Browne’s turn in place of Neil Kilkenny.
Although Grayson had two strikers – Kevin Davies and Craig Davies – as options on the bench, he felt a change in midfield was the right option.
Grayson said: “The majority of people might have thought we would take a striker off and put another on.
“We felt that the two strikers were doing nothing wrong and we just needed a little bit more in the middle of the pitch.
“Alan can do that, he made a couple of great tackles and had energy about him. He helped us get over the line as such and get the win.”
North End paid a nominal fee to Cork for 18-year-old Browne in the transfer window.
They were tipped off about his potential by a horse racing contact of Trevor Hemmings in Ireland.
Said Grayson: “We had Alan training with us for two or three months before we did the deal.
“We liked what we saw and he has some talent.
“I’m not afraid to put in the young kids if they are good enough.
“We have done that with Josh Brownhill and now with Alan Browne.
“If we have other kids coming through the system then they will get their opportunity.
“I don’t care if someone is 30, 25 or 17 – if it is right for the club and right for that moment to put them in, I will do that.
“Alan did well for the third goal – others might have shot and got the headlines But he spotted Joe Garner to the side of him, and he picked up his second goal of the night.”
Meanwhile, PNE were today awaiting news on the knee injury suffered by Wiseman.
The right-back jarred the joint and he will undergo a scan to assess the damage.
Grayson said: “For him to have come off so early is not too good.”