Josh Ginnelly vows to take his chance after a long wait to make his Preston North End debut

Josh Ginnelly is perhaps the most patient player in Preston’s squad, hence there being a collective and genuine delight for him from team-mates and fans alike when he finally made his debut last week.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 2:00 pm
Josh Ginnelly on his Preston debut against West Bromwich Albion last week (photo: DAVE KENDALL/PNE)

The winger’s arrival from Walsall on New Year’s Day signalled the start of PNE’s January transfer dealings.

Always regarded as one for the longer term and something of a project, he was never expected to go straight into contention for the first-te am.

Neither though, was it expected that his North End debut would have to wait until April 13.

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Ginnelly finally got his tracksuit off and stepped on to the pitch in the last few minutes of the 4-1 loss at West Bromwich last week.

On the grander scale of things, it was not the best of afternoons for Preston.

For the 22-year-old though, it was a significant step forward.

In a case of mistaken identity, he was even credited with PNE’s consolation goal by some of the media at The Hawthorns.

“I think the highlights Callum Robinson and me have in our hair killed us,” said Ginnelly with a smile as he reflected on a game of football ‘Who’s Who’.

“We had a laugh about it afterwards and of course it was Callum’s goal.

“I did ask him whether I could have it but he told me no chance.

“It was nice to make my debut and whatever comes my way next, I will take it in my stride.”

For Ginnelly, these last three months or so have been about adapting to being in a Championship squad and the demands that puts on players in terms of training.

There have been few complaints from him, no knocking on the door of Alex Neil’s office asking for his chance. Ginnelly signing for North End was a big jump up, his form in half a season in League One with Walsall having caught the eye.

That was the highest level he had performed at – before that it was League Two and non-league.

Ginnelly said: “I feel I have improved as a player in my time here, even if I’ve not been playing.

“Seven months before I signed for Preston, I was playing in the National League for Tranmere.

“Everything that the gaffer told me, I’ve taken on board.

“I have learned from his training sessions and from the other players.

“Sometimes it hasn’t been easy not playing but I always believed in myself and knew my chance would eventually come.

“I’ve had to bide my time and remember, just after I signed the lads went on a 12-game unbeaten run.

“The lads were flying in that run so I couldn’t have any complaints about not being involved.

“Along the way I was told by the gaffer to stay positive, stay on top of myself and that I would get on the pitch.”

Ginnelly’s debut came in a game played against a backdrop of speculation about the future of PNE boss Neil.

West Bromwich were in the hunt for him which only served to muddy the waters of last week’s visit to the Midlands.

Neil has since signed a new contract with North End, a decision which has been welcomed both in the dressing room and on the terraces.

“We are all buzzing that the gaffer is staying,” said Ginnelly.

“He is getting the best out of all of us and works really hard.

“I’ve enjoyed working with him and I’d say he is the best manager I have worked with – that is said with no disrespect to any of the other managers I’ve had in my career.

“He is intelligent, knows a lot about the game and if he tells you to do something in a certain way, you do it because you trust that is right.

“We work hard during training, every session is intense – not always in a physical sense but from a mental point of view.

“He works on a lot of tactical stuff, gets on to us about shutting lines down, stopping the opposition. “We take on board a lot of information but it’s worth it.

“The gaffer has worked with me to get me up to speed with what is wanted, so too Frankie McAvoy and Steve Thompson..

“I’m listening to them all the time, knowing it will help when I get my chance on the pitch.”

Ginnelly will hope to feature against Ipswich and in the Easter Monday trip Wigan.

Now that he has had a taste of the first team, it is natural that he wants more.

Said Ginnelly: “Before every game we talk about winning and building some momentum.

“We have got four games left and we want to win them all, regardless of what we can achieve and cannot achieve.

“Ipswich are next for us and while they have been relegated, they will come here and be professional.

“They’ve no pressure on them so we have to be ready for them.

“If I get a chance again that would great but I’ll have to wait and see.”