'Good environment' at Preston North End - 22-year-old on being patient for a midfield chance

Ali McCann says he is enjoying the ‘good environment’ at Preston North End despite his limited game time of late.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 12:30 pm

The 22-year-old midfielder has been used sparingly by PNE manager Ryan Lowe, with just one start in the last few weeks – and that came out of position at left wing-back against Luton Town.

Even the start at Kenilworth Road was cut short at half-time due to him having a nose bleed which medics struggled to stop.

However, there are few complaints from McCann who joined PNE from St Johnstone on transfer deadline day last August for a £1.2m fee.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Preston North End midfielder Ali McCann

Speaking while on international duty with Northern Ireland, McCann said: “It's a different world from Scotland. I've played quite a lot of games, although obviously the last month or two I've not been playing as much.

"But we've been picking up good results at Preston, so it's a good environment to be in, and when I have got in I've just enjoyed it as much as I can.

"I'm just cracking on as usual, working hard, and then whenever I have played I've been ready."

Game time for McCann has reduced under Lowe, compared to what it was when Frankie McAvoy was head coach.

PNE's Ali McCann battles for possession with the United States' Chris Richards while playing for Northern Ireland. Pic: Getty Images

Read More

Read More
Preston North End keeping close tabs on defender's Sheffield Wednesday loan with...

He’s featured nine times in Lowe’s reign, starting five of those games against Barnsley, Cardiff (FA Cup), Millwall, Hull and Luton.

McCann said: “The new manager has been great with me, to be fair, I've got no complaints on that front.

"It's just a bit unfortunate for me that we hit a good run of form and the midfielders were playing well. I just had to sit tight and keep myself ready, which is what I have done.”

Lowe’s first-choice midfield trio has been Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne and Ben Whiteman.

McCann has got eight more games of the domestic season to force his way back into the midfield once the Championship resumes after the international break on April 2.

North End’s chances of making the play-offs look slim indeed so there is the prospect of Lowe rotating his squad and having a look at different personnel and partnerships.

Just at the moment, McCann’s focus is on Northern Ireland and there two friendlies they have coming up.

They play Luxembourg on Friday before returning to Belfast to take on Hungary on Tuesday night.

That schedule will have him back at Euxton on Thursday of next week to join in with PNE’s preparations for the clash with Derby County at Pride Park.

McCann has 10 international caps and is set to feature against both Luxembourg and Hungary.

His last Northern Ireland game was the 0-0 draw with Italy at Windsor Park in November. Italy failing to win that night meant they are in the play-offs for World Cup qualification rather than going straight through to Qatar.

Reflecting on the Italy game, McCann said: “It was a great night for us and to come away with a 0-0 draw against the European champions, it was a massive performance and we could have nicked it at the end.

"Any game in front of a full house at Windsor Park is brilliant and it was a great atmosphere on the night.”