Simon Grayson is encouraged by what Tom Barkhuizen has shown when coming off the bench for Preston in recent matches.
The speedy winger has seen action in the last four games and made a positive impact.
In the 2-1 victory against Queens Park Rangers, he was denied a first goal in North End colours by a fine save from goalkeeper Alex Smithies.
Previously in the wins over Brentford and Birmingham, his joining the action on the wing allowed Aiden McGeady to move inside to the No.10 role to good effect.
Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson told the Post: “Tom has grasped the opportunity given to him.
“When he has come on, he has carried us up the pitch with his pace and directness.
“That pace that we have seen from him is everything we saw when we watched him play for Morecambe for the past year or so.
“He’s doing really well, there is still a bit of work to be done but Tom is young with a good attitude.”
Barkhuizen has had to show plenty of patience in the last couple of months.
The 23-year-old signed a pre-contract agreement with PNE in November after cancelling his contract with League Two side Morecambe by mutual consent.
His 18 months at the Globe Arena saw him score 17 goals in 64 appearances, form which attracted plenty of interest from other clubs.
Preston paid the Shrimps youth compensation for him and the move was registered when the transfer window opened on January 1.
He was an unused sub at Burton the next day and his North End debut was a late cameo against Brighton.
Barkhuizen did not make the bench against Aston Villa, Ipswich, Cardiff and Barnsley, but came back into favour for the Brentford win.
Said Grayson: “You always like to see players coming off the bench and effecting the game.
“It is what people do in training and in behind closed doors games that plays a big part in selection.
“I don’t leave players out for the sake of it and I don’t put people in the squad for the same of it.
“They have to earn the right to be involved.
“You saw what a threat Tom was with his pace in the QPR game.
“He could have scored a couple of goals and he set up a couple of good chances for others too.
“We have a really talented squad here with very good depth to it.
“Yes, we are a bit short of numbers in certain areas at the moment – the right-back position – but generally we have strong competition for places.”