Paul Gallagher’s central to PNE’s play-off dream

North End midfielder Paul Gallagher
North End midfielder Paul Gallagher

Paul Gallagher does wonder what path his career might have taken had he switched to central midfield earlier.

The 33-year-old has been a regular in Preston’s engine room since their return to the Championship.

He tended to play wide or in a more attacking role when the Lilywhites were in League One.

It was early on in the 2015/16 campaign that Gallagher switched to a deeper-sitting midfield slot.

In Alex Neil’s favoured 4-2-3-1 system, Gallagher has been used on a regular basis in midfield since November.

“I’ve only played in central midfield for three or four years,” Gallagher told the Post.

“To be honest I have always said that I got a bit stuck as a player earlier on.

“Managers didn’t know where I was best – left, right, off the front, up front.

“I started off as a striker and I think to myself if I’d had one position all my career, I might have played at an even higher level.

“I did play in the Premier League but I might have played there for a lot longer.

“Sometimes it can help that you can play in different positions but it can affect you because you don’t get settled in one position – for others one position is their bread and butter.

“I’ve had to adapt my game to play central midfield, I’m not a tackler and have never been a tackler but I will try.

“I’m not deluded and think I can tackle, because I can’t, whereas I can do things which other players can’t do – 
everyone brings something different to the game.

“Getting older, I can run a game and play it at the tempo I play at, that is something special which only certain players can do.

“I see that with Ben Pearson here, he is starting to dictate games.

“If you look through the Championship there are not many players who can do that.

“In the Premier League there are a lot of players who can, but the Championship is so relentless.

“If you can dictate a game in terms of how you want to play by slowing it down, speeding it up, demanding the ball, it is a great art to have.

“I have really enjoyed doing that role.”

Having scored a penalty and set up a goal in last week’s win over Leeds, Gallagher was on the bench against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

He joined the action in the 62nd minute and it was his free-kick which Alan Browne headed home for North End’s winner.