Preston North End midfielder Josh Harrop's recent performances catch the eye of Alex Neil

Preston midfielder Josh Harrop holds off a challenge against Manchester City before seeing his shot hit the post
Preston midfielder Josh Harrop holds off a challenge against Manchester City before seeing his shot hit the post

Josh Harrop can offer Preston North End some of the qualities which Callum Robinson did before moving to the Premier League.

That is the view of PNE manager Alex Neil, who says Harrop has taken on board what was said in a heart-to-heart chat at the start of the season.

Preston's Josh Harrop

Preston's Josh Harrop

Neil admits the 23-year-old failed to impress during pre-season, perhaps because he was over-cautious on his return after cruciate ligament surgery.

Harrop has played seven games this season, featuring at some point in the last five.

The former Manchester United reserve started the midweek defeat to Manchester City and last Saturday’s 1-0 win against Birmingham City.

He will also be looking to start today’s Deepdale clash with Bristol City.

Neil said: “When Callum Robinson left for Sheffield United, I had a good chat with Josh.

“I told him the role which Callum played was ideal for him because he could do very similar things.

“He’s got good legs, wants to roll on to his right side, can pick a pass and can shoot.

“Josh perhaps doesn’t get into the box as much as Callum did.

“You might say Callum was more of an inside forward type, while Josh comes inside into the midfield.

“They have similar attributes which lend themselves to being effective drifting in off the side.”

It is 12 months ago this weekend that Harrop tore a cruciate, ruling him out for the rest of that season.

Neil felt an element of caution was evident – understandably, it has to be said – when the midfielder embarked on his comeback in the summer.

“I was disappointed with his pre-season. I didn’t think he did well enough,” said Neil.

“He was frustrated with that and it was a case that he needed to do better.

“All credit to Josh – I think he has been excellent since, really excellent.

“You can go one of two ways – either feel sorry for yourself and not respond or really knuckle down, force yourself in and make something happen.

“Josh has done that and I’m pleased he has.

“He was really cautious in the summer after the injury and you can understand that.

“For a young player to miss nearly a season of football was significant for him.

“Mentally that took a lot to overcome and he didn’t want to get injured again.

“I remember back to the game we played in Ireland – Josh had to come off with a knock and was really upset after that game, even though it was nothing serious.

“Josh has worked really hard and he’s getting plenty of game-time now.”