PNE midfielder takes heart from Irish international call

North End midfielder Alan Browne
North End midfielder Alan Browne

Preston midfielder Alan Browne described being named in the latest Republic of Ireland squad as a ‘boost’ – even though he did not make the final cut.

The Irish face Denmark in Copenhagen this evening in the first leg of a World Cup qualifying play-off, Browne having to make do with watching it as a fan.

But he did make it into an initial squad announced by Martin O’Neill, something the 22-year-old sees as a positive.

Browne has one senior cap to his name, which he collected in June’s friendly with Mexico in New Jersey.

He aims to get more and his form for PNE so far this season is helping his cause.

“It was a boost for me when I was named in the squad to start with,” Browne told the Post.

“I had a taste of it in the summer and, ever since, I’ve been wanting to get back in.

“Martin O’Neill has been to a few games this year, which isn’t a surprise as we’ve got a big Irish contingent.

“He’s been taking notice and it’s very good to be in his thinking.”

Preston team-mate Daryl Horgan was in the same boat as Browne, named initially in the squad but missing out on the chance to face the Danes.

Sean Maguire would have made the cut, only for injury to thwart him.

The striker had surgery on Tuesday to repair a serious hamstring injury, one which will rule him out for three or four months.

Republic boss O’Neill ran the rule over Preston’s Irish players at Fulham last month.

Commenting on Browne’s progress, O’Neill said: “He’s a strong running player who is improving and it’s nice to see.

“At Preston, he is a settled fixture now, which is encouraging.

“He has a bit of work to do with us as there are probably some midfield players in front of him but he has a really great attitude.”

Looking ahead to the two games with Denmark – the return leg is at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Tuesday – Browne said: “I’m sure the boys will be raring to go for the two games and hopefully we can get the results that we need.

“If you look the opponents it’s good to have avoided the top two teams on paper (Italy and Croatia) but Denmark are a great side as well.

“Ireland seem to have beaten the more difficult teams in the past but this is not going to be an easy game.

“Playing at home second is a massive advantage for us.”

Browne has impressed for Preston this season, making 16 appearances.

The former Cork junior has particularly caught the eye in an advanced midfield role.

That said, against Aston Villa 10 days ago he played the second half as an emergency centre-half.