Josh Earl signs new Preston North End contract

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Preston North End left-back Josh Earl has signed a new three-year contract.

Earl, 18, made his first-team debut last month against Reading and has started the last four games.

Josh Earl

Josh Earl

He came through the youth ranks at Deepdale, having joined PNE's academy at the age of 9.

The Southport-born teenager signed his first professional contract in the summer and this new deal runs until June 2020.

Earl said: "I'm so happy to sign it.

"It has all happened for me in the last few weeks and I can't thank the gaffer enough for the opportunity he has given me.

Josh Earl in action against Middlesbrough last month

Josh Earl in action against Middlesbrough last month

"Obviously getting my first pro contract was a big thing for me but signing this new contract is a big moment for myself and my family

"I'm happy with how I have done so far."

Earl got his chance in the North End team when Greg Cunningham suffered a long-term injury in August's 1-0 defeat at Derby.

Until then, the plan was to loan him out to get first-team experience.

Said Earl: "I never expected all this to happen.

"The plan was to go on loan at the start of the season and get games.

"But the opportunity came about here and I like to think I have taken it.

"The first four games I've played have been tough but slowly and surely I'm getting to grips with it."

North End manager Alex Neil said the new deal for Earl was something which had been in his thoughts for some time.

Neil said: "This is something I spoke with him about even before he started his first game.

"I'd talked with him about the future and what I thought he had got.

"We were going to put him out on loan to get some game time at a good level but we would have extended his contract before he went out.

"It looks like he has been rewarded for getting into the first-team but it was already in progress.

"Josh has got his new contract and deservedly so, I think he is going to have a great future.

"I thought he was excellent against Cardiff, he learned some lessons from Saturday's game and took it into Tuesday night."