Jordan Storey looked like he had never been away from Preston North End’s defence

The last two seasons have contrasted greatly for Preston North End centre-half Jordan Storey.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 4:45 pm

His first campaign at Deepdale saw him win the club’s young player of the year award on the back of 32 appearances.

It was a pleasing maiden season for Storey after being signed from Exeter City.

Things have not quite gone quite as well though, for the 22-year-old in 2019/20.

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Preston North End centre-half Jordan Storey

He fell down the pecking order of centre-halves when Patrick Bauer arrived last summer and chances have been few and far between.

The midweek 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday was only the fourth league game Storey had started this season and the first since the beginning of December.

It was a seamless return to the side, Storey looking like he had never been away as he played a big part in North End’s welcome victory.

He got his chance due to a switch of formation as Alex Neil went for a back three.

With Paul Huntington suspended, Storey was the player drafted in next to Bauer and Ben Davies.

Storey said: “It was only a couple of days before the game that the gaffer talked about us perhaps going three at the back.

“We had a little bit of time to prep for it and as you saw it worked out well.

“Playing 3-5-2 was not too strange for me because I played a lot in a back three at Exeter.

“As a defence we hadn’t played together like that before so I thought we coped very well.

“We stuck to the game plan, made sure we were hard to beat and kept things relatively simple.

“It was obvious what Sheffield Wednesday were going to do, they were always going to turn it up to the big man Atdhe Nuhiu and work off him.

“We knew that if we limited his chances, that would suit us.

“I thought we dealt with his threat very well and then our subs came on and really changed the game for us.

“The subs all brought some spark and that was great to see.

“When you looked at the bench we had a lot of quality on there, plenty of attacking players who had the potential to change the game and did just that when they came on.”

Storey’s shortage of action this season saw him discuss the possibility of going out on loan in January in order to get game time to keep his development going in the right direction.

North End did not want to loan him out, preferring he stayed to fight for a place.

“It was a brief discussion I had with the manager and the club,” said Storey.

“I wanted to play some games, I still wanted to learn things with being young.

“They didn’t want me to go and told me the reasons why not.

“The team has been doing relatively well so I couldn’t have any real complaints.

“It is always frustrating for a player who has been regularly in the squad one season to go to not playing much the following year. It’s mentally tough more than anything and I did want to go out and play. I’ve stuck with it here, worked hard and it was great to get my chance during the week.

There is a big few days ahead for Storey and his PNE team-mates, with games against two top-five teams.

On Saturday afternoon they host Nottingham Forest at Deepdale. Then it is off to London on Wednesday to face Brentford.

It would be harsh on Storey if he doesn’t line up against fifth-placed Forest, judging by how well he did at Hillsborough. He is taking nothing for granted though, and is keeping his fingers cross he will get the nod.

Said Storey: “I hope I have done well enough to play at the weekend.

“Forest set up in a different way to how Sheffield Wednesday did.

“We might have to use a different formation – the one we used on Wednesday might not be beneficial this time. What we do know is that we have got four big games left and we have to try and rack up as many points as we can.

“We’ll be going out to try and get a win in every game.

“This could be a big weekend because teams in the top 10 are playing against each other so points will be 
dropped.

“We just have to focus on doing well in our games, not worry about anyone else and see where that takes us.”

It is two years since North End swooped for Storey.

They paid a reported £500,000 for a player who had only broken into the Exeter side earlier in the 2017/18 season.

Although perhaps signed as one for the future, Storey soon impressed at Deepdale.

From January 2019 through to the end of last season, he played every games alongside Davies.

So it is understandable to see his frustration at a lack of first-team opportunities this time around.