Ryan Ledson must keep pushing to find a regular place at Preston North End
When action resumes after the international break this weekend, Ryan Ledson will be trying to break his way into a competitive Preston midfield.
His 17 months at Deepdale since signing from Oxford United have been a learning process.
Ledson has had 22 starts and 11 appearances from the bench, plus two red cards.
Aged 22, time is on his side and in North End boss Alex Neil he has a manager who will give young players their chance – in a lot of cases gradually introducing them.
In 2014, Ledson was one of 40 ‘next generation’ players worldwide who were picked by the Guardian newspaper as ones to watch in the future.
All were born in 1997 and the idea was to monitor their progress and see how their careers panned out.
Ledson, then at Everton, was one of two Englishmen in that group of 40 – the other was Dominic Solanke who at the time was a Chelsea player.
Other footballers picked out as ones to watch in that generation were Ousmane Dembele, Luka Jovic, Ruben Neves and Youri Tielemans.
In 2014, Ledson was 17 and had skippered the England Under-17s side to victory in the European Championships. He had been identified by the then Everton boss Roberto Martinez as a big hope for the future but Ronald Koeman, who succeeded him, viewed things differently.
Ledson went on loan to Cambridge and then joined Oxford in a permanent deal.
Preston signed him from The U’s in May 2018 and last season got 14 Championship starts under his belt.
A red card early in his time with PNE in a League Cup tie at Leeds earned him a three-game ban.
Ledson’s season was brought to an early finish and the current one had a later start due to a four-match ban he got for a red card at Wigan in April.
His one league start in this campaign came last month in the 2-0 win over Brentford.
Like in many of his games when he has got his chance, he did well against the Bees.
But quite a lot of his starts have come when he has covered for Ben Pearson.
Ledson started the League Cup tie with Manchester City 10 days later and gave a good account of himself.
It is a competitive midfield he is part of, Pearson, Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher currently the preferred trio.
Alan Browne has had to drop in and out, summer buy Tom Bayliss has not had a look in yet. The challenge ahead of Ledson is to keep pushing.