Preston North End midfielder Josh Harrop will get a big shot of confidence after coming off the bench to score against Bradford

Josh Harrop celebrates scoring PNE's fourth goal at Bradford City
Josh Harrop celebrates scoring PNE's fourth goal at Bradford City

Josh Harrop getting himself on the scoresheet within seconds of joining the action in Preston's win at Bradford was a big confidence booster says Alex Neil.

Harrop came off the bench as a 71st minute substitute at Valley Parade and scored moments later with a shot from outside the box which clipped off Bradford defender Anthony O'Connor before dropping in.

Preston manager Alex Neil on the touchline at Valley Parade

Preston manager Alex Neil on the touchline at Valley Parade

It was the 23-year-old's first competitive game since the end of September last year when he damaged his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which needed surgery and a long recovery period.

He hadn't made the match day squad for the first two Championship games of the season and despite Neil changing the entire starting XI for the visit to West Yorkshire, Harrop only made the bench.

But the former Manchester United man certainly made an impact, much to the delight of North End manager Neil.

"I actually thought he had delayed too long and should have hit it earlier, but it loops off their lad and drops in," Neil said.

"It was nice for Josh, it had been frustrating for him not to be involved in the last two games.

"He is working really hard, wants to be involved and the best way to get involved is to go and make an impact on the game - Josh did that within about 15 seconds so that was good.

"It was funny when the goal went in, Frankie McAvoy turned to me and said 'well done gaffer'.

"I said 'well I didn't do much, it was Josh who went on and scored the goal'. It was down to Josh, I put him on and he went and scored the goal.

"It was good for him, he needed a confidence booster and a wee pick-me-up."

Andre Green gave North End the lead in the 13th minute, Tom Barkhuizen netting six minutes later.

Barkhuizen scored again in the second half and then Harrop scored after coming on for Jayden Stockley.

In changing the full team, Neil used Alan Browne at right-back, that a selection call forced on him by an injury to Paul Huntington.

Tom Clarke was needed in the middle to partner Jordan Storey, hence midfielder Browne being asked to drop back into the defence.

Neil said: "Unfortunately Hunts had a bit of a groin problem, it stiffened up on him so he couldn't make it.

"That meant Al had to be drafted in as an emergency right-back and he was excellent to be fair to him

"Al is one of the last ones who has to show me what he can do, he has been a key player for me for two seasons.

"But I hadn't felt on Saturday he had merited a start so he wasn't in the team.

"Because he is a good player he has had a good reaction, shown a great attitude and went about his work properly."