Alan Browne Preston North End column: Saluting PNE’s Mr Versatile Paul Gallagher

Challenging for the ball against Wigan at Deepdale last month
Challenging for the ball against Wigan at Deepdale last month

Our game against Ipswich Town last week was a bit of a crazy one and we had a lot to be thankful to Paul Gallagher for.

It cannot be too often that an outfield player has come off the bench, scored with his first touch and then had to go in goal because the keeper has been sent off.

Gally pulled off that great save too at the end which a lot of keepers would have been pleased with.

Mind you, I still think it was one for the cameras!

Everyone in our dressing room knows what Gally is about and what he brings to the Preston squad.

There was a bit of talk over the summer about his future but thankfully he stayed with us and has made a big impact in a number of games this season.

That is twice he has come on and scored goals with his first touch and now he can add goalkeeping to his list of contributions.

Gally had come on for me at Ipswich so I watched all the drama unfold from the bench.

When Chris Maxwell was sent off, we had used all of our substitutes so there wasn’t the option of putting Declan Rudd on.

My first instinct was that it would be one of the taller lads going in goal like Paul Huntington or Tom Clarke.

But thinking about, you need their experience and defensive know-how in front of the keeper.

What a choice Gally proved to be and fair play to him for putting his hand up and wanting to put the gloves on for that closing spell of the game.

Hopefully last week was a one-off and we won’t need to call on his goalkeeping skills. We need his experience as an outfield player to help us climb the table.

He is the senior member of our squad but he knows how to get around the pitch and has plenty of energy.

Gally knows when to make a run and when to hold off – saving his legs for when it really matters.

That experience is vital and we are fortunate to have him here.

Saturday’s game against Bristol City is our last before the international break.

This week I was named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the games against Northern Ireland and then Denmark.

At the moment the squad is a provisional one and my aim is to be in the one which reports for duty.

It is always good when you get recognition from your country because it backs up what you are doing at club level.

I made the squad for the last international break but unfortunately didn’t play in either of the games, which was a bit disappointing.

No player wants to be there just to make up the numbers so it’s up to me to put in the hard work and try and get in the matchday squad this time.

There is some very tough competition for places in the centre of Ireland’s midfield.

There are a few boys from Premier League clubs so they are playing at a higher level than I am.

Then there are others who can play in various positions which gives them a good chance of playing.

But I’ll always back myself and know that I’m more than capable of going in and doing a good job.

The friendly next week against Northern Ireland should be quite a game and probably as intensive a friendly as I have been around.

Then we go to Denmark for the Nations League game which is a big one for us and has plenty of importance.

They are two tough tasks in different ways and I would love to be involved.

Callum Robinson and Sean Maguire have also been named in the squad, which is great.

It’s been brilliant to see Sean back playing over the last few weeks.

Callum is having a great season, carrying his Preston form on to the international stage where he has settled in really well.

If you said Callum has been our most consistent player at Preston this season, I would have to agree.

He has always been a big talent for us but this season has really pushed on and played to a high standard every week.

Callum has shown plenty of versatility in playing both up front and out wide.

It is good to have players like that who can rotate around the front line.

He has scored some very important goals for us from different areas.

When Callum has played down the middle, he has scored the type of goals you often see from a No.9.

The other string to his bow is to come inside off the wing and score goals from that area of the pitch. It’s good to have him around.