Grafter Alan Browne’s a tonic for PNE boss Alex Neil

Alex Neil says Alan Browne’s work-rate is ‘worth its weight in gold’ to the Preston side.

The midfielder took home the man of the match award from Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Hull City at Deepdale.

Alan Browne wins a challenge against Hull City midfielder Jackson Irvine

Alan Browne wins a challenge against Hull City midfielder Jackson Irvine

He scored the winner from the penalty spot too – his fourth goal of the season.

Browne started the game in an advanced midfield role and then dropped back into more of a holding position when Ben Pearson limped off.

PNE boss Neil said: “Alan is a confident lad and I thought he was an outstanding performer again on Saturday.

“In the last two games he must have been a nightmare to play against because his legs are unbelievable – he’s got so much energy.

“I don’t think I have seen anyone who covers as much ground as Alan does, that is both going forward and going back.

“He does recovery runs for his team-mates, puts headers and tackles in.

“Alan is just such a reliable player – people like him are worth their weight in gold.

“You know what he gives you, I watch him every day in training and how he plays is how he trains – he never stops.”

Browne assumed penalty duties at the end of the first half as Daniel Johnson was on the bench.

DJ had taken one the game before at Nottingham Forest soon after coming on as a sub.

Browne’s form at Preston could see him get recognition at international level.

He won his only Republic of Ireland cap in June’s defeat to Mexico in New Jersey.

With the Irish looking to rebuild after failing to quality for this summer’s World Cup, Browne has every chance of another call-up if he continues to show the type of form he has been doing this season.

Neil makes no secret of the fact that Browne is a vital cog in the works at North End, with the former Cork City junior displaying his versatility this season.

Browne is an option for a holding midfield role against Brentford this weekend.

Preston are without Ben Pearson, who starts a two-game ban for 10 bookings.

John Welsh will also be in contention for a rare start in the league, his involvement of late having been limited to the FA Cup games.

The 34-year-old last played in a Championship game in November at Ipswich.

After the way North End lost the midfield battle against Birmingham last month in the absence of Pearson, Neil will want a tackler in there.