Alex Neil says the progress made by Jordan Storey in his short time with Preston has been ‘remarkable’.
The 21-year-old has started the last six games, striking-up a good partnership at the back with Ben Davies of late.
For a player who this time last year had not started a Football League game, Storey has looked so assured.
North End boss Neil has used him carefully since his summer move from Exeter.
Storey had to be content with a diet of Carabao Cup games to start with, his first league appearance not coming until the end of September.
It is since Christmas that a run of games has come the central defender’s way.
Neil said: “I think Jordan was always going to take a bit of time.
“Before he came here he had played 17 games in League Two for Exeter and had spent the first-half of last season on loan at Dorchester Town.
“To do what he has done in a short period of time here is remarkable really.
“The only story here which you could compare it to is Josh Earl playing at Lancaster on loan before he broke into the first-team here and played in the Championship.
“It does show you what young players are capable of doing.
“But what I’m conscious of is not chucking them in before they are ready.
“Jordan has matured as a person and as a player over the last six months.
“Naturally you have to give them a bit of time but he is now showing what he is capable of.
“What he has managed to achieved so far is something quite special for a young kid who didn’t come through a club’s academy.”
Storey has been paired-up with Davies for the last two games, both of which North End won.
It was an injury to Davies on Boxing Day which initially gave Storey his way back into the team.
Said Neil: “Ben is good on the ball, he’s quick and is also becoming more aggressive in the air.
“He is becoming a bit more of a leader within the group in terms of taking responsibility.
“Ben didn’t start the season well, we had a few chats about that.
“In the first 10 or 11 games he was probably as poor as I have seen him but in the last 10 or 11 games which he has been involved in, Ben’s been sensational for us.”
Storey and Davies being teamed-up has meant Paul Huntington has dropped out of the side.
Huntington was an unused substitute at QPR and didn’t initially make the matchday squad against Stoke.
But he was a late call-up for the bench when Louis Moult suffered a reoccurrence of a hamstring injury during the warm-up.