Tom Bayliss put in mature show for Preston North End says boss Alex Neil
A ‘mature’ Preston debut from Tom Bayliss caught the eye of Lilywhites boss Alex Neil and put him firmly in the plans for Saturday’s trip to Swansea.
The 20-year-old midfielder joined North End on the eve of the season from Coventry.
He was a spectator for the opening two league matches against Millwall and Wigan but got his chance in the 4-0 win at Bradford City in the League Cup.
Bayliss partnered Ryan Ledson in midfield as Neil changed the entire starting XI from the Wigan game.
Neil told the Lancashire Post: “I thought Tom was very good, he had energy and his fitness levels are very good.
“He’s still a young lad and just needs to learn when to press, about getting up to the ball and his aggression in terms of when he get there to put his foot in. Tom had some really good moments when he stepped in, played his one-twos and then continued his runs.
“He’s got an eye for a pass and for someone who has only just turned 20, it was a mature performance from him.
“His style means he makes it look effortless.
“When you think of the legs we have got in the team, we have got Brad Potts, Tom Barkhuizen, Tom Bayliss and Alan Browne – they can run all day.”
Competition is healthy in midfield, with Ben Pearson, Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson having played in the win over Wigan.
At Bradford, Potts was in the advanced midfield role ahead of Bayliss and Ledson.
Josh Harrop then joined the action from the bench and scored within a minute.
So there is much to ponder for Neil as he takes his side to the Liberty Stadium.
While Bayliss was making his debut at Bradford, there was a first start in a Preston shirt for Andre Green after his loan switch from Aston Villa.
Green had a brief run as a substitute at Millwall and was an unused sub against Wigan.
He opened the scoring at Valley Parade with a smart finish on the volley from Tom Clarke’s cross.
Said Neil: “It was nice to see Andre get inside the full-back, we don’t want wingers who just hog the touchline.
“For the goal, he got inside and it was a good finish.
“The first goal in a game like that was crucial – until we got it Bradford were still in the game and in contention.”
Neil gave a late run as a sub to second-year scholar Ethan Walker at Bradford.
Walker, who turned 17 last month, made his debut in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa in December.
“I got an opportunity to put Ethan on because we were winning the game quite comfortably,” said Neil.
“It was nice to give him a taste of it and Ethan will want more of that.”