Confidence is key to goalscoring form of Preston striker Emil Riis

Frankie McAvoy says a boost in confidence has been a major factor in Preston North End striker Emil Riis having hit double figures of goals at this stage of the season.

Riis’ pair in the 2-0 win over Luton at Deepdale took his campaign’s tally to 11, with seven of those coming in the Championship.

The Dane’s first goal was a sign of a player operating with bags of confidence, with him hammering a shot from the side of the box across goal into the far corner.

Last season, Riis found the net just three times after an October move from Randers.

Preston striker Emil Riis (centre) is congratulated by captain Alan Browne and Ben Whiteman after converting from the spot

PNE head coach McAvoy told the Lancashire Post: “He just needed an arm around the shoulder at times, just to let him know we have faith and trust in him.

“Confidence is a big thing, especially for a front player.

“That’s 11 goals now for Emil which is good. He’s a threat, is still young and has pace and power about him.

“When Sean Maguire is up there with him, Seani takes a bit of pressure from him by sinking deep to get the ball.

“That allows Emil to do what he is good at, running away from defenders and taking them into areas where they don’t want to go into it.

“He has bags of confidence now, that goal was not a fluke because he does things like in training. I’m not going to stop him having shots.

“Emil has a freedom to express himself , they all have in the final third.

“His first goal was fantastic and I wanted him to take the penalty kick for the second.

“I’m just disappointed he didn’t get a third because he deserved a hat-trick.”

Victory saw North End stay in 19th place in the table, nine points clear of third bottom but just six behind fifth and sixth spots in the play-offs.

Luton dropped five places after leaving Deepdale empty handed, emphasising how tightly packed middle ground in the Championship is.

One of the tactical changes McAvoy felt worked well on Saturday was a move for Tom Barkhuizen to wing-back.

McAvoy said: “I thought he was excellent. We’d looked at Luton and thought they would play Amari’i Bell on that side, someone we know well from his days at Blackburn.

“He’s a more defensive player and that gave us real impetus to get a third forward player up there – Tommy B did that really well.

“I felt that on the other side of the pitch, Josh Earl again did some really good things.

“Some of the things he does also frustrated a little bit but Josh is another young man who needed an arm around the shoulder to get him believing in himself again.”

North End now hit the road for two away games, against leaders Bournemouth on Wednesday and Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

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