Alan Browne is content with how his season has gone so far but believes there is much more to come from him in the Preston North End midfield.
The 20-year-old has started 10 of PNE’s last 11 games, in doing so re-establishing himself firmly in the plans of Simon Grayson.
He will be looking to get another start under his belt when North End head to London this weekend to play Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Brown said: “On a personal level, it has been a good season for me so far.
“I’m thankful that the gaffer has given me a chance and has played me for the last few weeks.
“It is that faith which I want to repay with some good performances.
“There is more to come from me, I know that I can always do better.
“I haven’t played to my full potential yet and hopefully over the next few weeks, people can see that come out of me.
“I’m grateful to be playing in such a high division and this is a chance which I want to take.”
Two years ago, Browne was on trial at North End, training with them after the season in Ireland had finished.
Recommended by a contact of PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, who has seen him play for Cork City’s Under-19s, he crossed the water to join the squad.
Browne signed in January 2014, and now has 58 first-team appearances under his belt.
Reflecting on the last couple of years, he said: “I’ve looked back a few times and it is fair to say I have come a long way.
“That is down to the staff here, the lads in the squad and the fans who have been so supportive.
“I suppose I am a different type of player to when I first signed.
“I’ve not changed massively but the gaffer has given me particular roles in certain matches and I’ve adapted to those.
“That gives the gaffer options, knowing I can adapt to different situations.
“I’ve got to keep on playing well because there is some strong competition in the midfield area.
“With the players we have got on the bench – or not even in the matchday squad – you have to look over your shoulder.
“If your form drops off, there are players like John Welsh, Neil Kilkenny and Josh Brownhill ready to come in.
“Recently, it has been Daniel Johnson, Paul Gallagher and myself in midfield.
“Gally has been dropping into that deeper role to get on the ball and keep the passes coming.
“DJ and myself have played either side of him, pushing on to create space.”
North End travel to the capital on the back of last Saturday’s derby defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale.
They have had a week to get it out of the system and hopefully the time spent on the training pitch will pay dividends against the Cottagers. It was their first loss since the start of October, an unbeaten run of six games being put together in between – a run in which they did not concede a goal.
Said Browne: “It was a decent enough performance against Blackburn but I thought we could still have done a lot better.
“The first goal was an unlucky one to concede and the second a penalty.
“Maybe that showed that we still defended quite well, neither of their goals coming after we were cut open.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted and this week has been about re-grouping and going again.
“It probably took a little longer to digest because we didn’t have a game on Tuesday to focus on.
“If you have a midweek game straight away, you tend to put the previous one out of your mind pretty quickly.
“On the plus side, not having a midweek game means we have had more preparation time to work on things for Fulham.
“There are no excuses for not going to Fulham and getting a good result.”
One positive to be taken from the Blackburn defeat was a first goal of the season for Joe Garner. A popular figure with fans and team-mates alike, the goal went down well within the dressing room.
“I think Joe was relieved to have scored last week and everyone around the club is happy for him,” said Browne.
“We all know how good Joe’s scoring record has been and hopefully he can kick on.
“It would be nice to see him get another one at Fulham because it is a tough game.
“Fulham score a lot of goals and have also conceded quite a few.
“Hopefully we can get back to being tight in defence and this can be the start of another run of clean sheets. Then we need to take our chances at the other end when they come along.”
As well as being a regular choice in Preston’s side this season, Browne has been collecting a decent number of international caps with Republic of Ireland Under-21s.
Browne said: “It is always an honour to play for your country and it is a proud moment when I pull on the green shirt.
“But it is all about what I do at Preston first.
“If I’m doing well here that will be reflected at international level.
“There are no international games now for quite a while.”