Josh aiming for run in PNE first team

Josh Brownhill hopes to be back in the Preston side against Chesterfield at Deepdale tonight
Josh Brownhill hopes to be back in the Preston side against Chesterfield at Deepdale tonight
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Josh Brownhill is itching to get back into the Preston North End team this evening and help them recover from the weekend defeat to Walsall.

The teenager had to watch from the bench on Saturday as PNE lost for the first time in League One this season.

With a number of players carrying knocks from the visit to the West Midlands, not to mention some hurt pride, there is every chance of Brownhill returning to action in tonight’s Deepdale clash with Chesterfield (7.45pm).

If that proves to be the case, he is determined to put in a performance worthy of keeping hold of the shirt.

Brownhill had featured at some stage or another in North End’s previous eight games before Saturday.

Named on the bench at the Bescot Stadium, he saw Jordan Hugill, Alan Browne and Kevin Davies got the nod to join the action ahead of him.

Brownhill said: “It is hard being out of the team but saying that, I have played a lot of games since the start of the season.

“Sometimes you get given a rest or a different side is selected and you have to accept that the size and strength of the squad here means the gaffer can do that.

“Every player here has a case to be in the team but obviously only 11 can be picked to start.

“So when your chance comes you have to make sure you take it and stay in for the next game.

“If I’m picked to play against Chesterfield, I’ll be full of energy and wanting to show that I should be playing every week.

“I want to show the gaffer what I can do, although the main thing is that the team gets a victory.

“The competition for the midfield positions here is very strong.

“There is myself and Alan Browne, Neil Kilkenny, Jack King and John Welsh, while Keith Keane has just gone out on loan.

“The gaffer will always pick a team which he thinks can win a game – he did that on Saturday.

“He might pick a different one tonight and if I’m in it, I will be giving 100% to try and help us win and to stay in the team.”

There was a strong reaction from the North End faithful to the Walsall defeat, with Simon Grayson getting it in the neck from some supporters for his selection and tactics.

He went with a 4-4-2, King and Kilkenny the chosen pair in the centre of midfield.

In the other games this season, Grayson had tended to go 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.

That system, which had Brownhill and Browne pushing up with Kilkenny or King behind them, gave PNE the numbers in midfield.

Going with just the two at Walsall at times saw them get overrun in central areas, something you always run the risk of with a 4-4-2.

How they line up tonight depends on the latest bulletins from the medical room where several players have been undergoing treatment since the weekend.

You would strongly fancy Brownhill and Browne to go back into the side, Browne looking lively in his cameo as a substitute on Saturday and going close to pulling back a late consolation.

Said Brownhill: “It was a disappointing result at Walsall.

“They had not won a game in the league up until then and we were hoping to put one over on them.

“How we played the game on Saturday was not how we had been performing in the last few weeks.

“Sometimes that happens in football and it is all about how you cope with it and respond. We have a big home game now against Chesterfield and then another when we play Crawley on Saturday.

“The target when you play back-to-back home matches is to try and get all six points.

“Considering the result at the weekend, it is really important that we do that.

“We want to be up there in the league table. At the moment we are a bit away from the top two but we know that with a couple of a wins, we can close the gap and climb a few positions.”

One of the teams above Preston in the table are this evening’s opponents Chesterfield.

They have maintained the winning mentality developed during last season’s promotion campaign in League Two.

Brownhill predicts a hard-fought game against Paul Cook’s side, who arrive in Lancashire on the back of a 4-1 home win over Scunthorpe.

The 18-year-old said: “I have been very impressed with how well Chesterfield have started the season. They have won a few games and have a good number of points on the board.

“We will certainly not be taking them for granted and we have done our homework on them.

“Every game in this division you have to work hard for the three points. We want to get back on track quickly tonight and get ourselves going on another good run.”

It is less than a year since Brownhill forced his way into the PNE first-team squad, that milestone moment coming last October.

Since then he has made 22 starts and 16 substitute appearances.