Kilbane tips McGeady to be a hit at PNE

Aiden McGeady (above) was a team-mate of Kevin Kilbane in the Republic of Ireland squad
Aiden McGeady (above) was a team-mate of Kevin Kilbane in the Republic of Ireland squad
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Former Preston North End winger Kevin Kilbane says his one-time colleague Aiden McGeady will be a success at Deepdale.

The pair were team-mates in the Republic of Ireland squad for a number of years, with Kilbane a big fan of McGeady’s natural talent.

McGeady is two games into a loan spell at PNE from Everton, having moved on deadline day.

He scored on his debut against Barnsley a week ago and caught the eye in Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory over Cardiff City.

Preston-born Kilbane, who made 55 appearances for his home-town club, thinks McGeady can kick-start his career at North End under the watchful eye of Simon Grayson.

Kilbane, now a television and radio pundit, told the Evening Post: “Aiden was a team-mate for a number of years.

“He got into the Republic of Ireland squad under Brian Kerr in 2004 when he was only a kid of 18 or 19.

“Everyone then could see the ability he had.

“There were European nights with Celtic when he ripped AC Milan’s defence apart – he was one of the most naturally gifted talents around.

“Aiden then went off to play in Russia with Spartak Moscow.

“We didn’t see him play there but when he came back for the international games, he still produced the goods. I thought it was a good move when he signed for Everton in January 2014.

“He scored a great goal for them against Leicester on the opening day of the following season, but it never really happened for him there.

“What Aiden needs at Preston is to get settled and have a run in the side – he needs to play 15 to 20 games on the bounce.

“If he gets that, with his ability he can be a big player for PNE – he shouldn’t have a problem playing at this level.

“Aiden can go past players at will and do real damage to teams.

“There might be games when teams double-up on him and stop him playing for the most part.

“But give him one chance, just a bit of room and he can change a game.”

McGeady made his debut for PNE playing in a role off the striker, then started on the right wing against Cardiff.

It was on the other side of the pitch where Kilbane used to link up with him.

“A lot of the time for Ireland, I played left-back and Aiden played in front of me on the wing,” said Kilbane.

“He can play on both wings, go on either foot.

“A couple of years ago, I remember him scoring twice for Ireland against Georgia – his second goal was typical Aiden, a fantastic finish.

“That game he played as a No,10 behind Robbie Keane.

“I prefer to see him out wide. When playing there he can get in one-on-one positions, get crosses in and win free-kicks.

“Against Cardiff during the week, I saw that Preston played 4-4-2, which is a formation which a lot of teams no longer use.

“You need legs in central midfield if you play that way, otherwise you can have holes in the team.

“But it gives you width and allows flair players like Aiden McGeady the chance to play.

“I think that Simon Grayson is the type of manager who can get the best out of Aiden.

“He seems to have a good track record of getting players who have lost their way a little bit and getting them going again.

“I like Grayson – 
he is passionate about football and doesn’t talk rubbish.

“He is straight to the point and has earned 
a lot of respect in the game.”