Josh can mix it with big boys
Josh Earl is confident he will be able to meet the physical demands of making the jump from academy football to the Championship.
The Preston left-back may only be 18, but standing at 6’4” he looked the part when he came in for the injured Greg Cunningham on his professional debut against Reading.
Good going in both directions and also confident on the ball, Earl’s height is also an added bonus for North End boss Alex Neil.
“I can compete with all the men so to speak,” said the Southport-born player, who joined the club as a nine-year-old.
“It’s not like I’m a little boy coming in and getting pushed over.
“I can compete physically as well as with my feet.”
His only previous experience of senior football came on loan at Lancaster City.
Earl played a handful of games for the Dolly Blues at the end of last season as they won the NPL First Division North title.
“That was more of a dogfight,” said the teenager, part of the PNE Under-18s side that reached the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup last season.
“It was a good experience for me because I got six games in men’s football, which was a good test for me.
“I definitely needed it. Playing Under-18s football was challenging but in a way was getting a little too easy at times.
“Making the step up to Lancaster was a big thing for me physically.
“We won the league as well, which was great.”
Earl’s senior bow came as part of a Preston side with an average age of just 23, an emerging group of players showing plenty of promise.
“It’s exciting,” said the full-back, who also played further forward for the Under-18s.
“We’re all very young but we’re all getting time on the field as well.
“It’s not like we’re all just bystanders and I’m excited to be part of it.”