Josh Earl determined to take his first-team chance at Preston North End
Josh Earl is enjoying a new lease of life in the Preston North End team and is determined to challenge for a regular place this season.
The 22-year-old has started the last three Championship games at left wing-back.
Earl has performed well in those games, claiming an assist for Sepp van den Berg’s goal in the 3-1 victory over Swansea before the international break.
It is four years since he first broke into the first-team picture at PNE in the early days of Alex Neil’s reign.
The academy graduate has had a mixed bag of fortune since, a couple of injuries holding up his progress while he went out on loan three times in two years.
So this is a big campaign for Earl as he looks to get a lot more Championship experience under his belt.
Earl told the Lancashire Post: “I’m really enjoying myself, it feels good to be back in the team.
“It feels like when I first got into the team at 18, I’ve got the same sort of feeling.
“I was young when I broke through and I’m still quite a young player now at 22.
“The injuries I’ve had did set me back, both fitness and confidence-wise.
“If I’d told my 16-year-old self that I would have played the number of games I have, I’d have been pleased.
“But once you get a taste of it, you want to play as much as possible and there have been spells what that hasn’t been possible.”
In the two seasons before this one, Earl had loan spells at Bolton, Ipswich and Burton.
Those loans provided him with some football but not quite as much as he would have wanted.
Earl suffered a bad ankle injury at Bolton, while his time at Ipswich was cut short when Covid-19 saw the 2019/20 season in League One curtailed. He spent the second half of last season with Burton.
Said Earl: “All the loans benefited me in different ways. At Bolton I was able to play as a centre-half .
“Ipswich meant me moving a long way from home which was a life experience. I also played left-sided centre-defence there.
“Burton was with a different style and a different manager which was good.
“In the summer I made sure I came back to Preston as fit as possible so as to give myself a chance.
“I made sure I smashed the fitness programme which we were given here, while my friend is a personal trainer who helped me.”
North End resume action after the international break on Saturday with a trip to Bristol City. Tickets are £28 for adults, £25 for seniors and under-25s, £21 for under-22s, £15 for under-19s and £10 for under-12s.