Preston North End striker Cameron Archer's big observation about the Championship during his loan from Aston Villa

If there is one thing Cameron Archer has noticed about the Championship it is the energy levels needed.
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The striker has been on loan at Preston North End from Premier League side Aston Villa since late January and has scored five goals in 10 appearances.

It’s his first taste of English football’s second tier which is known for its competitiveness and unrelenting schedule – something 20-year-old Archer can relate to.

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Archer told the Lancashire Post: “I’ve definitely noticed the difference in the Championship, when I come off the pitch I’m knackered, really knackered!

"In the Under-23s at Aston Villa I wasn’t like that, I didn’t have that same feeling.

"There is that big difference and it’s one which will benefit me.

"Playing in the Championship games teaches you all sorts of things. There was the game against Nottingham Forest recently when I played against some experienced players.

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"Before the game I had studied their defence and saw that they didn’t have too much pace and they’d looked at me and knew I had pace.

Preston North End striker Cameron ArcherPreston North End striker Cameron Archer
Preston North End striker Cameron Archer

"So they used their experience to give me nudges at the right time, make sure I didn’t get on the ball too easily.

"That night against Forest I learned a lot.”

Archer is averaging a goal every two games, his latest coming in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth and he scored North End’s equaliser.

On Saturday he takes his shooting boots to South Wales as North End take on Cardiff City.

Cameron Archer celebrates scoring on his Preston North End debut against West Bromwich AlbionCameron Archer celebrates scoring on his Preston North End debut against West Bromwich Albion
Cameron Archer celebrates scoring on his Preston North End debut against West Bromwich Albion
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He’s pleased with his tally which adds to four he got for Villa in the Carabao Cup earlier in the season.

So which of the five in a PNE shirt is his favourite?

Archer said: “I’d have to pick the first one at West Bromwich Albion. It was my debut and it being against West Bromwich who are rivals to Villa was nice.

"It was a tap in, a close-range header, an easy one, it was the perfect start for me.

Preston North End's Cameron Archer celebrates scoring his side's winner at Peterborough UnitedPreston North End's Cameron Archer celebrates scoring his side's winner at Peterborough United
Preston North End's Cameron Archer celebrates scoring his side's winner at Peterborough United

"The other goals have been a bit of a variety and that’s good. When I’m in a good position i have to be able to take them left foot, right foot or with my head.

"It’s good to have different ways of scoring.”

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In Ryan Lowe, Archer has got a manager who can help his forward play develop.

The PNE boss was a striker in his playing games and according to Archer, still has an eye for goal.

“All the coaches work with me, at the end of sessions we do extra finishing,” said Archer.

"The gaffer has been joining in with the finishing recently, before that he had an injury.

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"He’s really good actually, he puts a couple of the lads to shame with his finishing!”

The North End faithful have taken quickly to Archer, with them starting to sing his name on the striker’s debut and they’ve never stopped since.

For a loan player to have his own song – sung to the tune of the Human League’s ‘Don’t you want me baby?’ – is pretty good going.

Archer said: “I think there are two songs but the main one is ‘Cameron Archer baby’.

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"I love that song, it is always good to hear the Preston fans singing it. When they sing it and I’m on the pitch, I get a little smile on my face.

"It doesn’t stop me concentrating, hearing them singing spurs me on.”

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Archer’s loan spell at Deepdale is being tracked by parent club Villa, with them to assess in the summer what the next step is for him.

North End supporters would desperately love to see him back for a full season, however there is talk of Villa keeping him there for pre-season and possibly being part of their first-team plans.

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He got a taste of the Premier League in three substitute appearances in the first-half of the season, those in additions to games in the Carabao Cup.

Said Archer: “Villa have a loans department and I speak to them on a group chat. They ask me how I think things are going and they watch our games.

"There are quite a few lads out on loan from Villa, some in League One and League Two, and in the National League.”

Lowe’s selection in the forward line for the visit to Cardiff will be an interesting one.

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Archer has had Ched Evans alongside him in the attack for the last three games.

After Archer pulled PNE level against Bournemouth, Emil Riis came off the bench to replace Evans and score an 89th minute winner.

With his instinct in the box, Archer would seem to be first-choice, then it is a case of who plays next to him.

"Ched and Emil are different types of strikers, both have loads of quality and I can learn plenty from both of them,” said Archer.

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"I enjoy playing with either of them and we can all contribute in different ways.

"All the lads are good to work with here, there are good people throughout the club. I look forward to coming in every day.

"There’s a lot to play for still this season, in this division anything could happen. It is still possible for us to make the play-offs.

"We have to keep working hard and try to string a run of wins together. We will see how things go over the next few weeks and hopefully stay in contention.”