Alex Neil praises "wall" John Welsh on Preston return

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Alex Neil has described John Welsh as ‘a wall’ in that little gets past the tough-tackling Preston North End midfielder.

Welsh played a starring role in PNE’s 3-0 victory over Cardiff on Tuesday night, that his first league start in 11 months.

He got the nod to play in the absence of Ben Pearson, with Neil keen to play with a ‘sitter’ against Neil Warnock’s side.

“I played as a sitter for 15 years so I know a good sitter when I see one and I’ve got two great ones,” said Neil.

“John is a different type of sitter than Ben Pearson, he is an old-fashioned ball winner who you could label as a wall because nothing goes past him.

“He wants to nip things and is aggressive, he can also intimidate the opposition just by his presence which is a good strength to have.

PNE midfielder John Welsh grapples with Loic Damour against Cardiff

PNE midfielder John Welsh grapples with Loic Damour against Cardiff

“Ben is a lot more stealth-like, he creeps up, nicks things and drives forward.

“Whereas John basically stands there and you know what is coming, it is like a train hitting you through the back.”

Neil must now decide if to start Welsh in Saturday’s visit to Birmingham City.

He is mindful that these are early days in Welsh’s return from the calf injury which he suffered last October.

Alex Neil gives PNE the thumbs-up after beating Cardiff

Alex Neil gives PNE the thumbs-up after beating Cardiff

But the way he played against Cardiff would make him hard to leave out.

Said Neil: “I spoke to John before the game, asked him to give me his best for an hour and then put his hand up when he was done.

“I didn’t expect John to put his hand up and he didn’t, he stayed on and gave me the full 90 minutes.

“That typifies him, he is a man. We have a lot of young lads here but John is a man.

“What he does is shoulder responsibility, he will do what is needed for the club.

“Last Saturday, I played Paul Gallagher in midfield and he did well.

“He had a tight leg from the game so we just used him from the bench.

“Saturday-Tuesday can be difficult for guys who haven’t played a lot.”