Alex Neil delighted that Josh Harrop is demonstrating his versatility for Preston North End
Alex Neil is happy to move Josh Harrop around Preston’s midfield to ensure he has the biggest impact possible on their matches.
Harrop shone in the 2-1 win over Charlton at Deepdale, playing in the No.10 role.
The 24-year-old scored a superb goal from the edge of the box to bring North End level after they had fallen behind early on.
He later sent over the corner which Patrick Bauer met to head the winner.
In the main, PNE boss Neil has preferred to use Harrop in a wider role and explained why in some games that suits him better.
However, he was delighted to see the former Manchester United player have such a positive impact playing more central against Charlton.
Neil said: “In some games the middle area can get really congested and it becomes a bit of a fight and battle in there.
“If you look at James Maddison at Leicester, they play him off the left most times because the middle area is too busy.
“The Charlton game was ideal for Josh to go in and play as the No.10 because we knew they would sit off and let us dominate the ball like we did.
“Josh was very good, he was able to have such a positive influence on the game.
“There will be other times when the game is a physical battle and it will be better to have him drifting in off the side to get him on the ball.
“Josh wants the ball to feet, so if you have a player who locks on to him and follows him about, he could find it difficult.
“If you have him drifting inside, the full-back can only come so far with him – if the full-back comes all the way that allows people to run down the side.”
North End’s midfield had a different look about it than of late, Daniel Johnson back in action after a nine-game absence with a knee injury.
He joined up with Alan Browne and Harrop in that midfield three.
Paul Gallagher and Ben Pearson were both missing due to injury and illness respectively.
Said Neil: “Pearo phoned on Friday morning to say he couldn’t keep any food down.
“He’d been vomiting and went to see the doctor. The only hope of him playing on Saturday was that he could eat something and keep it down.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We’ll see how he is for the Barnsley game tomorrow.
“Gally’s not been quite right over the last few games.
“He’s had an issue with his groin and he had a jab in it the other day to settle it down.”
North End’s Under-18s are in FA Youth Cup action against Oxford United at Deepdale tonight (7pm). Oxford agreed to switch of venue after their Kassam Stadium pitch was waterlogged last week.