Former Preston North End striker Brett Ormerod has identified Ben Pearson as the key man for the Lilywhites this season.
The midfielder was the young player of the year at Deepdale last season and now the former Manchester United youngster is looking to kick on again.
Alex Neil has given the 22-year-old a key role in front of the back four and asked him to curb the cards.
Pearson was booked 16 times last year and picked up the first red card of his career after being sent off at Elland Road in the second Championship game of the season.
“Ben Pearson had a fantastic season last year,” said Ormerod, who made more than 60 appearances for North End and scored 14 goals.
“He’s a player who got better with every performance and if he keeps on going then he’ll be a key player for Preston.
“You’ve got Jordan Hugill but you’ve also got Callum Robinson, who will cause a lot of defenders problems this season – he’s a tricky, pacy winger.”
Ormerod, who also played for Blackpool, Southampton and Wrexham before retiring after a stint with Bamber Bridge, has seen plenty of Preston this season.
The 40-year does some work as a summariser for BBC Radio Lancashire meaning he gets to plenty of games involving the county’s top sides.
He has been impressed with what he’s seen from Neil’s side since the new man took charge and believes the ingredients are there for a play-off push despite being underdogs in a cash-rich Championship.
“Preston do not have the finances to compete with the bigger Championship clubs,” Ormerod said.
“They have certainly punched above their weight.
“Alex Neil is a great manager and worked wonders with Norwich and was essentially a victim of his own success having not bounced back immediately following getting relegated.
“My initial impressions are that he’s very grounded and he’ll fit in well at Preston.
“Preston have some really good footballers in their squad and there’s a lot to be optimistic about.
“It will be tough for Preston to get play-offs this season but hopefully they can sneak in.”