PNE boss Alex Neil happy with left back options after Josh Earl's fine debut

Preston boss Alex Neil thinks he has sufficient options for the left-back role while Greg Cunningham is out of action.

Neil gave Josh Earl the nod in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Reading, the teenager making his first-team debut.

Josh Earl.

Josh Earl.

Kevin O’Connor was on the bench as cover for Earl, while Calum Woods can play on the left-hand side too.

The performance of Earl mightily impressed Neil and he felt the 18-year-old took his chance.

Cunningham is going to be out for a while after suffering a bad injury at the end of last week’s defeat to Derby.

A tendon at the back of his knee detached itself from the bone and caused a 28cm tear in the Irishman’s hamstring.

He has undergone surgery to reattach the tendon.

When asked whether he might dip into the transfer market for left-back cover, Neil replied: “What do you think looking at how big Josh did? That is your answer.”

Expanding on that point, Neil said: “We have got cover, Kevin O’Connor was on the bench and Calum Woods is coming back.

“We’ve got a game this week for Calum to get some minutes into his legs, he’s been training really well.

“I thought Josh was great against Reading and for me, left-back in his position.

“He played on the wing in the youth team but I think he is better when the game is in front of him.

“The way my wide players play, at times they have their backs to goal and I think Josh’s biggest strength is stepping

into the game and driving into space in front of him.

“For him to go from Under-18s football at category 3 level to what he did on Saturday, was an incredible step.

“I cannot stress that enough, I don’t think people understand what a big gap there is. I never thought he would let us down and he didn’t.

“There is more to come from him – there are not too many lads of 18 who are 6ft 3in, play at left-back and can run like the wind.

“He is hopefully going to be a special talent for us.”