Josh Murphy fires a reminder of what he's all about in Preston North End reserves outing
Preston North End’s victory against Carlisle United in the Central League Cup produced plenty of positives.
It was a stroll as far as the result was concerned, PNE putting five past their visitors without reply at Euxton.
Ten players got 90 minutes into their legs as they sought to maintain match fitness.
That could be significant for some of them as they eye more of a first-team involvement following the international break.
Loan man Josh Murphy bagged two goals, as did Brad Potts.
Tom Barkhuizen opened the scoring in his latest step back on the road to recovery after Covid.
Murphy has yet to start a Championship game since signing from Cardiff City on a season’s loan on deadline day.
Being cup-tied prevented involvement in the Carabao Cup, so it’s been a diet of bench duty to date – five times he has come on as a sub.
PNE fans were puzzled by Potts being favoured over him for the final substitution at QPR when Sean Maguire went off injured.
It might be that Maguire will not be back straight away when action resumes, so a place next to Emil Riis in the Lilywhites’ attack could be up for grabs. Murphy is a prime candidate, hence two goals on Tuesday being timely for him.
Barkhuizen is another option, depending on fitness levels after a lengthy absence.
The reserves lined up in a 4-4-2 against Carlisle, Barkhuizen partnering Joe Rodwell-Grant up front.
Murphy was on the left and Scott Sinclair the right.
It could have been 4-4-2 just suited the players North End had available for this group stage cup tie.
However, it was a good chance to look at a different system and see who offered what.
There’s a Lancashire Senior Cup tie and Central League game next Tuesday and Wednesday to offer further run-outs.
Barkhuizen will certainly target featuring in one of those games to build on the 90 minutes against Carlisle.
Tuesday’s game was his first involvement at any level since the opening day of the season against Hull City.
The effects of having Covid lingered longer for him than it had others.
Barkhuizen had several false starts when it came to trying to resume training.
He coped with the work in the gym but a few times had to pull up when he was training on the pitches with the squad.
Tuesday’s run shows he is heading in the right direction.
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