Preston North End's Ali McCann does have a role in midfield to play after left wing-back stint

Ryan Lowe has applauded Ali McCann’s performance as an emergency left wing-back but it will be in his natural midfield role where the Preston North End boss sees him flourishing.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 8:00 am

The Northern Ireland international played half an hour of last week’s win against Bournemouth on the left, that his first time on the pitch for a month.

McCann has had to be patient during Lowe’s time in charge, with him making three Championship starts and three appearances off the bench.

Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne and Ben Whiteman have been the midfield mainstays, McCann finding it difficult to force his way in.

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Lowe put him on for Josh Earl a week ago, having played the former St Johnstone man at right wing-back in his first game in charge in December.

Out of position he might have been, however McCann performed the wide role very well.

Lowe said: “Josh had got a bang on the shoulder, he was holding it a bit. It was not Ali’s position but he is a fantastic kid and a fantastic player who will play anywhere.

"I told him he’d be playing on the left but just to come inside on to his right foot rather than take it on the left because he is right-footed.

"Defensively Ali was very good and going the other way he got us up the pitch, he’s got a lot of energy.”

PNE’s midfield is a strong area of the squad, hence McCann spending time on the bench. Ryan Ledson hasn’t been able to nail down a place, while Brad Potts has moved out to the right wing-back role.

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Lowe said: “When Ali played in midfield at Millwall and Hull he was fantastic.

"He’s probably played the role a bit different as such, he’s a bit younger than Browney and DJ, they are a bit more streetwise when they are playing the ‘eight’ roles in midfield.

"Ali’s having to adapt to it because he had previously played in the middle as a two.

"Playing the eight role, you have to know when to hit the box, when to hold back, where you have to receive the ball.

"Ali is a very good player, the more he plays and the more he is coached, the better he will be.”