Preston North End manager Alex Neil on why Brad Potts has been in and out of the PNE team this season

Preston midfielder Brad Potts in action against Leeds at Elland Road
Preston midfielder Brad Potts in action against Leeds at Elland Road

Preston North End boss Alex Neil has praised Brad Potts’ display against Leeds United and explained his intermittent use of the midfielder this season.

The 25-year-old played the full game at Elland Road on Boxing Day, that only his seventh Championship start of the campaign.

Preston midfielder Brad Potts at Elland Road

Preston midfielder Brad Potts at Elland Road

However, Neil has tended to turn to Potts in some of the bigger matches – he played in the home game against Leeds, so too against Fulham and West Bromwich Albion.

The January buy from Barnsley also faced Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.

Although he doesn’t seem to be some fans’ cup of tea at the moment, Neil thinks he has a big part to play.

Neil said: “We brought him in at Leeds to play as a No.10.

“That job is one which Alan Browne naturally does very well but Brad’s legs and athleticism means he is more than capable of doing that.

“What he does do was to provide a threat from deep in transition because of his legs and running ability.

“I think Brad tends to suit counter-attacking type games, his pace is good for that and he gets up and down the pitch quickly.

“It has been a little bit frustrating for Brad when we have come across teams who sit behind the ball.

“In those games there is not a lot of space for him to use his main attribute which is his running power.

“So my difficulty there is finding a place for him when teams play like that.

“Brad is doing well though, it shows how much I trust him when I put him in for the big games.”

Potts made an impact when he signed from Barnsley almost 12 months ago.

PNE were unbeaten in the 10 games he played before a knee injury ended his season in March.

His knee caused him an issue again in pre-season, seeing him miss most of the friendlies.

So the early part of the season saw him working to regain his fitness.

Neil said: “If you miss some of pre-season it is always hard work because you then have to play catch-up.

“As everyone knows, our midfield is a really difficult place to get into.

“We have got some quality players in there, it is the hardest position for players to force their way in.”

Against Leeds it was Potts, Ben Pearson and Browne in the midfield.

Paul Gallagher was an unused sub, perhaps with one eye on Sunday’s clash with Reading.