PNE star targets regular Championship spot

Alan Browne
Alan Browne
  • Alan Browne delighted to sign new three-year contract with Preston
  • Midfielder came in from the cold to play significant role in play-offs
  • The Irishman fulfilled a dream playing at Wembley
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Alan Browne is eager to re-establish himself as a regular in the Preston squad after signing a new contract.

The midfielder watched much of the second half of last season from the stand after falling out of contention.

I can’t wait for the new season and to play in the Championship.

However, 20-year-old Browne timed his arrival back into favour to perfection.

In the play-off semi-final second leg with Chesterfield, he joined the action in the 52nd minute to replace the limping Paul Gallagher.

That was Browne’s first slice of senior action for three-and-a-half months.

He got even more playing time in the final at Wembley, taking over from Gallagher in the first half.

Browne said: “It was the perfect ending to the season, happening when I least expected it after being out for so long.

“They were the two biggest games of the season, it was amazing to be involved.

“It was a great experience to play at Wembley and I’m thankful to the gaffer and backroom staff for giving me my chance.

“Now I can’t wait for the new season and to play in the Championship.

“We will be coming up against tougher opposition and against teams who play a different style of football than we might be used to.

“We will have to adapt to that and get ready for a really big season.”

Browne penned a three-year deal yesterday, keeping him contracted to North End until the end of the 2017/18 season.

He had a year to run on his existing contract but the club were keen to tie him down to the longer deal.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international was signed from Cork City 18 months ago for a nominal youth compensation fee.

He played nine games at the end of 2013/14 season and was a regular starter for the first half of last season.

The arrival in January of Daniel Johnson and a re-shape of the midfield saw Browne edged out of contention.

A priority this summer has been to keep the core of the promotion-winning squad together.

He is the sixth player to extend his stay, joining Paul Huntington, Tom Clarke, John Welsh, Chris Humphrey and Joe Garner in putting pen to paper.

A year’s option on Bailey Wright has been taken up and it is likely that efforts will be made to get him on a longer-term deal.

Jermaine Beckford and Paul Gallagher have joined PNE full-time after being on loan.

The future of Kevin Davies remains unresolved ahead of the end of his current contract on June 30.

A combined player/coach role has been suggested for the 38-year-old striker.

The going has been slower in relation to new signings, with Preston yet to do business.

Two of their targets will have to be cash buys as they are contracted at other clubs, while the left-back they are chasing is available on a Bosman.

PNE manager Simon Grayson has gone on record to say that he is prepared to wait for the ones he wants, rather than plunge in and sign anyone.