Action replay is unlikely for PNE midfielder

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Alan Browne hopes that his emergency stint in Preston’s defence was a one-off.

The midfielder played the second half of PNE’s defeat to Aston Villa on Wednesday as a centre-back.

Alan Browne winning a header against Aston Villa's James Chester on Wednesday night

Alan Browne winning a header against Aston Villa's James Chester on Wednesday night

Having started the game in an attacking N0.10 role, it was quite a departure.

Browne’s experience as a defender amounted to no more than a couple of recent training sessions.

But push came to shove at half-time of the Villa match when Calum Woods and Josh Earl were injured.

“It was probably a one-off to be fair,” Browne told the Post.

“I don’t seen a No.10 dropping back to being a centre-half again.

“It shows how unlucky we have been with injuries and suspensions that we had to do that against Villa. I just had to fill in and get on with the job. It is unheard of in any league for a team to have eight defenders out .

“I just wish all the boys who are injured a speedy recovery.”

Preston boss Alex Neil had already been forced to field a make-do-and-mend defence.

Woods started alongside Andy Boyle in the middle but was unable to come out for the second half after damaging his knee before the break.

Left-back Earl also limped off with a similar injury and was replaced by Kevin O’Connor.

“The gaffer came in and read the situation,” said Browne.

“He could see Calum was struggling and that Josh had got hurt.

“The decision was made to put me in there.

“To be honest, I’d had a few training sessions in defence when I was suspended just to fill in.

“Maybe that put the idea in the gaffer’s head.

“I felt comfortable doing a job for him. As a centre-back you have a lot more time on the ball.

“That said, in the second half the game completely changed.

“Villa knew we would be on their backs for the second half, so I think they set up to defend our balls into the box.

“For me at the back, it was a case of winning your battles and coming out on top.

“I think I managed to do that on a few occasions.”

It has been a lively couple of weeks for Browne, who was sent off at Wolves.

He had to be called back from the dressing room to be shown the red card, a bizarre incident to say the least.

Said Browne: “I’d seen him go to his pocket so I decided to get off the pitch as quickly as possible so that the boys could get on with it.

“We had Wolves on the back foot at the time and we were really going for it.

“When I got called back, I knew I was going off still.”