Business as usual for PNE’s ex-United youngster

Josh Brownhill in FA Cup action
Josh Brownhill in FA Cup action
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It is not a surprise to hear Josh Brownhill talking excitedly about Preston’s up-coming FA Cup clash with Manchester United.

The midfielder was on United’s books for a decade, joining when he was only six and leaving as a teenager after they did not offer him a scholarship.

Brownhill bounced back from rejection by United – and by three other clubs – by joining PNE.

A week on Monday he will come face to face with the Red Devils at Deepdale.

There is more pressing business before then in the shape of this weekend’s clash with Coventry City and then Tuesday night’s visit to Chesterfield.

Only after then – and hopefully with six points in the bag – can attention turn fully to the United meeting.

Brownhill said: “I was with Manchester United when I was younger so to play against them would be great.

“I was at United for 10 years, from six through to 16.

“When I was playing for a local team called Broadheath in Altrincham, there was a set-up for United to have a look at you.

“If you were good enough they sent you to United. I went a year early – it was the under-sevens and I was six.

“To start with we trained at a different place to the senior players –we were at the Cliff until the Under-12s.

“When we moved up to Carrington we would see the big players every now and then like Wayne Rooney and Ronaldo.

“Rooney was my idol growing up because of his talent and aggression.

“He also played in a similar position to me when I was younger.

“If I was to get chosen to play United in the FA Cup, it would be a great occasion.

“I’m actually a Manchester City fan and have been since I was very young – my dad supports City and pushed me that way.

“I’ve still got a little soft spot for United though, because I was there for so long and it helped me to get to where I am today.

“From the current first-team squad, James Wilson was in my age group at United.

“He looked a great player from the start, always playing in the age group above.”

Brownhill did not walk straight back into football after United chose not to offer him trainee terms.

He went for trials with three clubs but in the end it was fourth-time lucky at Preston.

Said Brownhill: “I remember being in the meeting when they told me I was not being kept on.

“They just said I wasn’t going to get a scholarship. It was a horrible moment for myself and for my mum and dad who were there.

“After that it was a case of coming back fighting.

“I went to a few clubs who didn’t think I was good enough but when I came to Preston they liked me.

“Crewe was the first club I went to but they were looking for a left-back and not a midfield player.

“Then it was Burnley, who said I wasn’t good enough, then I went to Sheffield United.

“They said they already had the same type of player as me but they recommended me to Preston.

“Someone at Sheffield United knew someone here and arranged for me to come and train.

“It was meant to be that I should have been at Preston.

“I trained with the youth team for a week, then Jamie Hoyland and Dean Ramsdale called me into the office and I was offered a scholarship.”

Brownhill, who turned 19 in December, is a well-established member of the PNE squad.

In recent games he has won back his place in the starting XI and was in the side which beat Sheffield United in midweek.

Reflecting on the replay victory, Brownhill said: “It was great for the lads to get the win after what had happened in the past few games.

“To beat a good team like Sheffield United was a huge boost.

“Now we have got Manchester United and everyone will be pushing to try and play.

“We have got two important league games first against Coventry and Chesterfield.

“They are games that we have to win in order to get to where we want to be.

“The previous few weeks had not been great in terms of getting results and maybe our confidence took a bit of a knock.

“But we know what we are capable of doing and I think we showed everyone that on Tuesday night. After the game, all the lads were buzzing because of how we played.

“Now we have to play like that consistently and get some more points on the board.

“The Coventry game is a big one – it should be a good crowd because of the ticket arrangements. It will be great to play in front of a big crowd and the fans can really give us a lift.”

As far as Brownhill’s own game is concerned, the teenager is enjoying a run of matches in the company of some experienced team-mates.

He said: “The more games I play, the better it is – I gives me confidence and experience.

“I’ve got some experienced lads in and around me, which I feel I’m benefiting from.

“In midfield there is Neil Kilkenny, Paul Gallagher and John Welsh, then in defence Tom Clarke, Paul Huntington…people like that.

“I can only learn from people like that and I’m enjoying it.”