Tom Barkhuizen is happy to lead the Preston North End attack as a striker

Tom Barkhuizen after scoring Preston's second goal against Brentford
Tom Barkhuizen after scoring Preston's second goal against Brentford

Tom Barkhuizen enjoyed his time leading Preston North End’s attack against Brentford and hopes the central role is one he can play again.

A winger by trade, he was given the No.9 role by North End manager Alex Neil and the ploy worked well.

Tom Barkhuizen gets attention from PNE physio Matt Jackson after getting a bang in the face against Brentford

Tom Barkhuizen gets attention from PNE physio Matt Jackson after getting a bang in the face against Brentford

Barkhuizen scored PNE’s second goal in the 2-0 win, Sean Maguire having netted early in the contest.

Maguire played narrow to the left of Barkhuizen, with Billy Bodin on the other side.

“This is the third season I have worked with the gaffer and I know certain positions he wants me to play down to a tee,” said Barkhuizen.

“The No.9 isn’t really one I have played a lot in before. I did it against Stoke last month and it worked, then it worked in this game which was really pleasing.

Preston's Tom Barkhuizen

Preston's Tom Barkhuizen

“It is a role I actively want to play, it is one I can learn more about as we go on.

“Depending on the game you are going to be required to play different roles.

“If a team likes to play high, that is perfect for me to run down the middle. In other games I will play out wide to try and stretch teams that way.

“The No.9 role here is quite a selfless one, you do a lot of running in order for others to get chances.

“I think that epitomises me, I do a lot of running and don’t necessarily score the goals others do.

“If we play a certain way, the role up front really suits my game.”

Barkhuizen’s 70th-minute goal against the Bees was his first in the Championship this campaign but he had netted twice at Bradford City in the League Cup last month.

Darnell Fisher’s low cross presented him with a simple finish from six yards.

Said Barkhuizen: “It’s one of those where you just hope it doesn’t bobble or nick away from you.

“It was a nice easy one and hopefully it can kick-start my scoring in the league. It was a nice ball from Fish – he hasn’t scored since he’s been here so I knew he was going to cross it and not have a shot!

“He got on the ball well from Joe Rafferty’s pass and fizzed it low for me to score.

“It was a difficult game with the way Brentford move the ball but the early goal gave us a cushion.”