Dave Seddon's PNE Press View

There appeared to be a reaction of universal approval to John Welsh signing a new contract with Preston North End this week.

Saturday, 22nd October 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 4:40 pm
John Welsh shields the ball from Aston Villa's Albert Adomah

Welsh committed himself to another 12 months at Deepdale, both midfielder and club thinking there if a role for him here beyond this season.

There is a dual role for him in my opinion, both on and off the field.

On the pitch, he is still the best defensive midfielder on the books.

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Yes, he has a few more miles on the clock than many of his team-mates, but such experience is invaluable when taking up that shielding role in front of the defence.

His style won’t fit every game North End play and there will be times when the legs need a break – a case in point was being rested for the Wigan game after 120 minutes of action at Bournemouth three nights earlier.

But every squad needs a John Welsh, someone to do more of the less glamorous side of the game, a job which does not necessarily attract the headlines but is appreciated by managers and colleagues alike.

Welsh has certainly played himself back into being more of a first-team regular in the last couple of months.

In doing so, he put himself into the reckoning for this new deal – an appreciation of what he has done and what he has got to offer.

His experience will be important off the pitch in a similar way to how his tackling and commonsense approach is needed on it.

There is a younger element to the PNE squad now, refreshingly so.

Younger players need that guiding hand, a few wise words at times from their older peers, Welsh someone who can pass on his experience.

In time, there are players on the books who could adopt his deeper midfield role.

Ben Pearson, since forcing his way back into the reckoning in recent weeks has shown his potential as an all-round midfielder.

At the start of the month in the victory over Aston Villa, we saw him pressing higher up the pitch and scoring his first goal in a while shirt.

Move the clock forward to Wednesday night against Huddersfield and Pearson was in more of a Welsh-like anchoring role.

His instruction was to hold the midfield line, giving Daniel Johnson more of a licence to attack.

I assume Liam Grimshaw’s future will be in a defensive midfield position.

Pressed into service as an emergency right-back in the early weeks of the campaign, we have yet to see him further up the pitch.

Midfield is where he played for Manchester United’s reserves and mainly when on loan at Motherwell last year.

Could Newcastle in the cup on Tuesday night be an opportunity for him?

Back to Welsh, and it was all a bit frustrating for him that the interviews he gave about his new deal, were done with a pair of crutches by his side.

The calf muscle he damaged at Brighton was the reason for the precautionary sticks.

But he expects his recovery to be a fairly quick one, timed in a few weeks rather than anything longer term.

When Welsh comes back, there will be a part for him to play and a crucial one.

I don’t expect it to be game after game but to have that option available is a good part of Preston’s armoury.

Without Welsh, North End head to Norwich for the latest part of October’s demanding schedule.

They go on the back of the win over Huddersfield and a point gained at Brighton.

In performance terms, Wednesday night’s was up there with the shift put in against Villa.

The high pressing worked a treat, turning the tables somewhat on how the Terriers like to play under David Wagner.

Victory was richly deserved despite one or two views to the contrary by Huddersfield fans on social media.

One claimed Huddersfield deserved to lose but Preston didn’t deserve to win. Work that one out!

To see North End grab the draw at Brighton was pleasing, especially in the circumstances it came about.

You cannot beat a late goal if it is your side scoring it, and with PNE having been on the wrong end of a few in the past, it made a nice change.

We had a chuckle after the game when Simon Makienok had been interviewed by some of the national reporters.

Makienok is distinctive to say the least – 6ft 7in, covered in tattoos, has a blonde crew cut and had just scored the stoppage-time equaliser.

After the interview, one hack turned to a colleague and asked, ‘Who was that?’