Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Preston North End's Alan Browne battles with Leeds United's Eunan OKanePreston North End's Alan Browne battles with Leeds United's Eunan OKane
Preston North End's Alan Browne battles with Leeds United's Eunan OKane
To play with 11 men against Leeds can be tough so for Preston to have taken a point with 10 men at Elland Road is a great result.

That is four points from two tough Championship games with clean sheets to boot, which is decent going.

It was Ben Pearson’s red card which meant North End had to play the last half-hour a man down.

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Pearson likes a booking and obviously he is going to have to work on that side of his game.

While you want players to put their foot in and tackle, he has to watch his step as being suspended and sat in the stand is no use to him or his team-mates.

The lad plays in the same central midfield position which I did at Preston.

Some people might say he is the most booked North End player since me!

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I suppose in that area of the pitch there are battles to be won and sometimes you can’t hold back.

But hopefully Pearson can continue to stamp his presence on a game without picking up as many yellow cards.

It will be something which Alex Neil will work with him on, just as I’m sure Simon Grayson did before him.

Playing-wise, you have a very talented footballer in Pearson and it is that we want to be talking about as the season goes on, not about cards and suspensions.

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I alluded to the two clean sheets kept by North End in their league games to date.

I’m not too surprised that has happened, bearing in mind they had been quite a solid side for the last few seasons.

Grayson had them set up in a solid shape for more than four years and I’m sure Neil is looking for the same tightness at the back.

What Neil is looking to add to that is more flair and to be more dangerous going forward.

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If he can get that balance right between being solid at the back and playing some eye-catching stuff further up the pitch, then North End will be on for a good season.

It is Derby County away next for PNE, a continuation of a tough start to the season.

But ask any manager in the Championship, and they will say every game is a tough one.

I think Derby will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

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Over the years they have spent money and it just needs someone to go in there and make it all click.

In Gary Rowett they have a decent manager who I think can be the one who brings it all together.

Derby have made some decent signings this summer, Tom Huddlestone being one of them.

If North End can go to Pride Park, show the solidity they did at Leeds, keep 11 men on the pitch and carry on trying to pass the ball, I see no reason why they can’t bring something back.

They didn’t have the best of Augusts last year but if they can get through this tough first five games with a healthy number of points on the board, it will give them confidence for the games ahead.