Alan Browne revealed the ‘kick’ of being dropped spurred him on to a man of the match performance in Preston’s big derby win over Blackburn.
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Last season’s Player of the Year was left out of the win against Bristol City but was back for the 4-1 win over Rovers at Deepdale on Saturday.
With Daniel Johnson set for a few weeks out, Browne stepped up by laying on the first two goals for Tom Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson before scoring the fourth himself.
“It was a test for me coming back into the team,” he said.
“I think me being dropped had been coming for weeks.
“I didn’t think I was playing anywhere near as well as I should have been.
“It just wasn’t happening for me. I did need that kick that someone was going to come in and take my place.
“I was a bit fortunate with DJ being out. The boys were fantastic against Bristol City and I didn’t have any right to come back in.
“It was a game where I had to take my chance and I feel like I did that and helped the team to a great victory.”
Browne’s goal, a left-foot volley five minutes from time, came from a Louis Moult cross shortly after the striker had again come off the bench to get on the scoresheet himself.
“He’s a poacher and when the ball dropped he was in the right place at the right time,” said Browne.
“And then it was a great ball for me and luckily enough I managed to find the back of the net.
“I was a bit worried because I’d slightly injured my quad and didn’t want to hit it but when the ball is dropping in the box you want to get your goal.”
Barkhuizen had opened the scoring after just 67 seconds with Robinson doubling the advantage 10 minutes in.
But Danny Graham’s goal early in the second half set up a nervy passage of play which PNE controlled before pulling clear in the final 15 minutes.
“It was a fantastic start but going 2-0 up probably made it a lot more difficult for us,” said Browne.
“Early on in the season we tried to be greedy and go for more and got caught out but we’ve learned from that and used our experience.
“It was just all about game management.
“We didn’t get nervous and sit in after they scored which a lot off teams could have done but we showed good character and good bravery and kept playing our own game and it paid off for us.”