Preston North End’s Man City loanee Lukas Nmecha has new role
Alex Neil thinks Preston might have found a ‘niche’ position for loanee Lukas Nmecha as he develops his game.
Nmecha, 20, played on the right wing in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Blackburn, putting in the cross for Daniel Johnson’s early goal.
He has operated on the flank when coming on as a substitute in recent weeks.
The Lilywhites brought him in as a striker when they signed him on a season’s loan from Manchester City.
Nmecha played the bulk of his games in the central role until recently.
North End manager Neil said: “Lukas’ biggest strength is when he is front-facing.
“You are more likely to get front-facing when you play on the flank because you can draw your full-back out, turn and get at them.
“When he is up front and having to pin himself against the centre-backs, he doesn’t have the same space to run.
“We’ve stumbled across a bit of a niche for him, certainly until his game develops.
“Once his game develops, Lukas will be a centre-forward.
“Sometimes you have to get younger players involved in different areas to help them understand the game a little bit better.”
Nmecha has blown hot and cold since last August’s arrival at Deepdale.
He has started 17 games and made 17 appearances from the bench, scoring twice.
The win at Ewood Park was Nmecha’s first start since New Year’s Day.
Sean Maguire and Jayden Stockley have been preferred since in the centre-forward position.
Nmecha got his chance on Saturday due to an injury to Brad Potts.
With Tom Barkhuizen, Tom Clarke and Ben Pearson also missing at Blackburn, Neil dipped into the squad. Brandon Barker, who like Nmecha is on loan from City, was on the bench for the first time in two months and came on in the 83rd minute.
There was a debut for Joe Rafferty in stoppage time and winger Josh Ginnelly made the bench.
Neil admitted they had all had to be patient in their wait for first-team involvement.
“It’s difficult for players who don’t play because they want to be a part of things,” said Neil.
“Unfortunately they have guys in front of them who have performed very well.
“I totally understand their frustration because I have been there as a player myself.
“We always try and cut them some slack and get them ready as best we can for when their chance comes.
“It’s about taking a chance when it comes along – Lukas got his and created the goal.”
Preston are back in action tomorrow night when they head to the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough.