PNE pair could be future midfield pairing

Josh Brownhill
Josh Brownhill
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There was certainly a glimpse in to the future for the PNE faithful last season with the emergence of teenage talents Josh Brownhill and Alan Browne.

The midfield duo forced their way into Simon Grayson’s thinking as North End pushed for promotion to the Championship.

Although Preston’s play-off semi-final defeat to Rotherham meant the campaign ended in disappointing fashion, the performance of the two youngsters over the course of the season has given the club and its supporters real cause for optimism.

Eighteen-year-old Brownhill was the first to make his mark in the first-team aged 17 when he came on as a second-half substitute in the 2-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat against Oldham at Deepdale.

A couple of weeks later he scored on his full debut in the 2-1 league victory over Gillingham in October.

He went on to appear in more than 30 games over the course of the season, including the play-off semi-final second leg at the New York Stadium.

Browne, who at 19 is just eight months older then Brownhill, arrived at Deepdale in January from Cork City. He was handed his debut in March, coming on as 78th minute substitute in the 3-1 victory over Peterborough United at Deepdale.

The Irishman went on to appear eight further times for North End, scoring in the 6-1 thrashing of Carlisle United at Deepdale.

Interestingly, although they have been on the pitch at the same time in various games, Grayson has so far not opted to pair them together in the centre of midfield from the start.

Brownhill admits there is plenty of competition between himself and Brown, but also sees a time when they can both play together.

When asked if he and Browne are the future of North End’s engine room, Brownhill said: “That’s what we are hoping.

“Alan’s a very good player and we have a bit of a friendly competition going on, but we get on very well both on and off the pitch.

“It’s great that we have a manager who places his trust in young players.”

Meanwhile, North End are close to making their second signing of the summer, following on from the capture of goalkeeper Jamie Jones from Leyton Orient on Friday.

It is understood the identity of the new acquisition could be revealed as early as today.