Ryan eyes a starring role for PNE

Jack Ryan made his Preston bow as a substitute against Colchester
Jack Ryan made his Preston bow as a substitute against Colchester
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Fictional action hero Jack Ryan has been played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine down the years.

The Tom Clancy creation was the star of box office hits The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, among others.

You can add to that list of roles a three-minute walk-on part in Preston’s 4-2 victory over Colchester on Saturday.

Jack Ryan was a stoppage-time substitute, replacing Joe Garner up front as PNE ran down the clock towards a third successive victory.

But this was no appearance from a Hollywood superstar, rather a first-team debut for a teenager from Cumbria.

Ryan, 18, has been learning his trade with the Lilywhites for the last few seasons and a scattering of injuries to the Preston forward line of late have seen him promoted to the senior squad.

The win over Colchester was a perfect time to give the young lad a brief taste of League One football.

And there could be more senior action heading his way when North End host Port Vale in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second round tonight at Deepdale (7.45pm).

A place on the bench looks the least that Ryan can expect – he could even start, depending on availability or otherwise of others.

Until a fortnight ago, he was on loan at Conference North side Stockport County.

Ryan had caught the eye there, with a run of four goals in five games for the Edgeley Park outfit.

The youth loan had been set to run until November but injuries to Kevin Davies and Jordan Hugill saw an early recall to Preston to cover the gaps. Saturday was the first time he had made the bench, having been 19th man against Coventry the week before.

While his appearance was a brief one, he could not hide his delight at being handed the opportunity step out on to the Deepdale turf.

“Any time on the pitch is valuable – a minute is a minute and an hour is an hour,” Ryan told the Evening Post.

“I’m just pleased that the gaffer game me a chance to show what I can do and now I’ve got my first-team debut under my belt.

“I wasn’t nervous when I came on against Colchester – I was just excited for the moment.

“There is another game tonight so hopefully I will get another run at some stage.”

Ryan says he has come back from Stockport with plenty of confidence after his run of goals. That was his second spell out on loan, having been borrowed by Stalybridge Celtic towards the end of last season to help them fight off relegation.

Said Ryan: “Stockport was a very good experience, getting games at a senior level.

“It was a lot different than playing in the reserves or the youth team.

“My couple of months there taught me a lot. I got a few goals and my confidence is sky high.

“I scored four goals in my last five games there and then I’ve got one here in a reserve game since coming back.

“The Conference North is a physical league – there is not a lot of passing football played. I had a taste of it last season at Stalybridge, which was down at the other end of the table.

“They managed to stay up and it was nice to play a part in that. If I am to go out on loan again, hopefully I can go a division or two higher.

“To play in the Conference Premier or League Two would be a good experience.”

Ryan hails from Barrow and his first rungs on the football ladder came at Blackburn.

North End picked him up after Rovers let him go and he progressed through the academy to sign professional terms in July.

Ryan said: “I’ve been at Preston since the Under-16s. I was at Blackburn before that but did not get a scholarship. Preston gave me the opportunity to come here. I had two years as a scholar and then got a pro deal in the summer.

“Over the last year or so I have developed a lot as a player. I base my game on holding the ball up against defenders, then getting down the channels and into goalscoring positions.

“When I was on loan with Stockport I was still training with Preston for part of the week. I would train Monday and Friday at Preston and then on a Tuesday and Thursday night with Stockport.

“Even on Tuesdays and Thursdays I would pop in at the training ground here to show my face.

“I have learned a lot training with the first-team squad here.It is good to work with Joe Garner and Kevin Davies, to see how they finish and make runs.

“Also, it is a good test when you are playing against experienced defenders in training.”