Cal’s taking a wider view

Callum Robinson rushes to congratulate team-mate Daniel Johnson after his goal against Oldham
Callum Robinson rushes to congratulate team-mate Daniel Johnson after his goal against Oldham
  • Wide boy Robinson happy with winger role
  • Loan man hoping to contribute goals and assists
  • Young forward enjoying second spell at PNE
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Callum Robinson is happy to be Preston North End’s wide boy in order to be a regular in the Lilywhites’ promotion push.

The 20-year-old has mainly played on the left wing since returning to Deepdale on loan from Aston Villa.

“I used to be a winger. It was only when I was 17 that Villa started playing me as a striker.”

With competition down the middle strong – Joe Garner, Jermaine Beckford, Kevin Davies and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake are all available to play centre-forward – Robinson says the ability to play wider is a string to his bow.

It is on the wing that he is likely to start this evening’s home clash with Doncaster Rovers (7.45pm).

“I used to be a winger. It was only when I was 17 that Villa started playing me as a striker,” Robinson told the Evening Post.

“With all the force we have up front at the moment, I can offer the option of playing out wide.

“Hopefully I can keep on providing the assists and knocking in a few goals.

“When I’m playing on the wing I know that if I get the ball into the box, there are some quality strikers wanting the ball.

“Put the ball into the right area and someone is going to get on the end of it.

“When you look at the quality of our forward line, we have Joe Garner back from injury and scoring goals.

“Jermaine is available now and scored on Saturday, then there’s Kevin and Sylvan.

“The bench on Saturday at Oldham was so strong in terms of the forward line.”

Robinson’s old pal Daniel Johnson is providing a goal threat from midfield too, with three in his last three games.

The pair have made the same journey from Villa Park to Lancashire this season but in slightly different circumstances.

While this is Robinson’s second spell on loan, Johnson made the permanent move to North End in January.

Robinson said: “I’m really happy for DJ that he has come here and settled in really well, scoring in the last three games.

“DJ has always had goals in his locker – I’ve seen him score plenty at Villa – and he’s a great box-to-box midfielder.

“His goal at Oldham was really good – I’ve actually never seen him strike through the ball that.

“Usually he guides the ball into the corner like he did in the Scunthorpe and Walsall matches.”

The Oldham game could not have gone much better for North End – they were a goal to the good inside 70 seconds thanks to a Paul Huntington header.

From there they did not look back, Johnson’s strike from the edge of the box doubling their advantage.

Robinson’s cross early in the second half set up Garner for a routine finish, Beckford later wrapping up the scoring.

“It was a great performance on Saturday from start to finish,” said Robinson.

“We got the early goal which helped massively and DJ got the second.

“In the second half we were able to get the ball down and express ourselves.

“I was pleased with my cross for the third goal. I put a lot of pace on it and it was a good finish from Joe off his chest.

“Jermaine got the fourth and we had chances to score a few more.

“Now we’ve got Doncaster at home and I always enjoy the night games here.

“This is a big week for us as we aim to try and push into the top two.

“We play MK Dons at the weekend but our full focus is on Doncaster.

“It is important we keep winning because there are some good sides around us.

“A good result against Doncaster would set us up nicely to go to MK Dons.”

It has been a loan spell of two halves for Robinson, his first lasting two months in the autumn, before being called back to Villa to cover a striker shortage.

But after getting no further than the bench in terms of first-team football at his parent club, he jumped at the chance of a return to Preston on transfer deadline day.

He was prevented from making an immediate return by a hamstring strain, his first slice of action back in North End colours being as a substitute against Manchester United in the FA Cup.

Since then he has started the games with Scunthorpe, Walsall and Oldham.

Said Robinson: “I’m happy to be back here and have been lucky enough to start the last three games. The boys are flying at the moment and it is good to be part of it.

“I went back to Aston Villa in November but for certain reasons did not get any game time in the first team.

“So it was great to get the chance to return, the opportunity to play with the lads again and work under the gaffer dragged me back.

“We have got a great chance of getting promotion but we have to keep our heads straight.

“Playing regularly here is so much different to Under-21s football which was mainly what I was getting at Villa.

“Under-21s football is good but it is more about developing possession and that side of your game.

“When you play in the first team it is about results, playing in front of thousands of fans rather than a few hundred.

“You have to be stronger. You’re playing against experienced professionals, not just lads your own age.”