Browne eager to link up with Irish duo

Kevin O'Connor after signing at Deepdale (Photo: PNE)
Kevin O'Connor after signing at Deepdale (Photo: PNE)
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Preston midfielder Alan Browne is backing pals Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor to be big hits at Deepdale.

The Cork City pair who will join PNE on July 24, were team-mates of Browne in the Republic of Ireland Under-21s.

He knows them well off the pitch too and predicts they can make the jump from the League of Ireland to life in the Championship.

On Thursday night, Browne and the North End squad watched Maguire and O’Connor in Europa League action for Cork.

Having been training at nearby Fota Island, it was a quick trip to Turner’s Cross for the qualifying clash.

Cork lost 1-0 to Cypriot side AEK Larnaca and face a battle to turn that round in the second leg next week.

That game in Cyprus will be the last in Cork colours for Maguire and O’Connor before their moves to Preston.

Browne told the Post: “All I need to tell you about Sean is that he will get goals.

“I know him and Kevin well, I played alongside them both in the Under-21s.

“Kevin played in midfield then but is at left-back now and doing very well.

“He has got a cultured left foot and can deliver a great cross.

“Looking at Sean, he works really hard on and off the ball.

“He is a strong boy and holds the ball up well, which can help the midfielders push on and support.

“I would say that Sean’s movement in the box is a bit different to what we have in the squad already.

“He’s clever and gets on the end of things in the box, it will be great to have him and Kevin over here.”

The Preston squad flew home from Ireland yesterday and are back in action today against Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

Alex Neil will give game-time to the majority of his players against the Hatters.

One player who will have to sit it out this afternoon and will be missing for the next few months, is skipper Tom Clarke.

The centre-half is on the mend from surgery to repair the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in April.

Clarke travelled with his team-mates to Fota Island and continued his rehabilitation work in the gym there.

Updating his recovery, he told PNE’s website: “I’m 
11 weeks in now.

“I’ve been doing similar stuff for a few weeks now and I can’t push it yet.

“But in a couple more weeks I can probably push on a little bit more and start doing new things – see the light a bit to getting back towards playing on that football pitch.

“There’s a lot of strength work, calf raises, squats and pool work – still keeping the upper body going and slowly starting to do a bit more.”