A g’day for PNE star Wright and Socceroos

Bailey Wright
Bailey Wright
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Bailey Wright took his good form in Preston North End’s defence on to the international stage.

After helping PNE keep six clean sheets on the bounce, Wright was in similar mean mood for Australia.

He played in the Socceroos’ 3-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan in Canberra on Thursday.

The game was a World Cup qualifier and the win pushed them closer to reaching the next stage of qualification.

This was Wright’s seventh international cap and he is steadily establishing himself as a regular in the Australia back four.

After the long flight Down Under – one he undertook straight after PNE’s draw at Queens Park Rangers last Saturday – there is more travelling for Wright.

The Aussies are next in action on Tuesday, away to Bangladesh.

That is another World Cup qualifier in which they will be looking to close the gap on group leaders Jordan.

Wright’s form for North End has excellent during the unbeaten run.

In the absence of skipper Tom Clarke and with Paul Huntington, until the QPR game restricted to a place on the bench by a hamstring niggle, Wright has been the senior figure at the heart of the defence.

For the matches against Charlton, Brighton, Bolton and Nottingham Forest, he was in the middle of a three-man defence, with Calum Woods and Greg Cunningham either side of him.

For the visit to QPR, there was a return for Huntington in place of the injured Cunningham.

That saw Wright move to the left side of the three, but a switch to a flat back four early in the first half saw him partner Huntington in the middle.

After his international duty, Wright is due back in Preston next Thursday, ready to start the build-up to the derby clash with Blackburn at Deepdale.

Wright was not the only North End player to be in action for his country on Thursday.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford played for England Under-21s against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

Once again, he recorded a clean sheet as the Euro 2017 qualifier ended in a 0-0 draw.

It was Pickford’s 14th clean sheet of the season for club and country.

Ten of those have come in Preston colours – nine in the Championship and one in the Capital One Cup.

Pickford had not had to pick the ball out of his net since stepping-up to the England Under-21s.

His Under-21s debut came against the United States at Deepdale in September with Gareth Southgate’s side winning 1-0 that night.

He has since kept clean sheets against Norway, Kazakhstan and now Bosnia.

PNE midfielder Alan Browne is set to play for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s on Friday.

They face Lithuania in Vilnius in a Euro 2017 qualifier, the Irish currently being joint top of a tight group with Italy, Serbia and Slovenia.

Browne’s international duty continues next week when the Republic of Ireland face Norway in a friendly at Waterford.