Why Preston North End captaincy is not the answer to Ben Pearson’s disciplinary problems

Preston midfielder Ben Pearson will miss the games against Bristol City and Blackburn through suspension
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson will miss the games against Bristol City and Blackburn through suspension

Alex Neil does not think that giving the Preston captaincy to Ben Pearson would help to improve his discipline.

Pearson starts a two-game suspension this weekend for reaching 10 bookings.

It is his fourth ban of the season and the midfielder will have missed 10 games by the time he returns.

North End boss Neil was asked whether being skipper might be the responsibility which Pearson needs to steer clear of trouble.

However, Neil is of the view that getting the armband is something which has to be earned.

He thinks the captaincy is a role still highly regarded at Preston, even if it is not the case at every club.

Neil said: “We have got a captain in Tom Clarke who has been a great servant.

“Paul Gallagher has done the job as well, Alan Browne too from time to time.

“The captain’s armband, for me, is earned rather than just handed over.

“Ben would have to earn it, if that is a potential thing we could look at in the future.

“You can’t have a captain missing 10 matches a season through suspension to start with, that is where we are at the moment.”

Clarke returned to skipper PNE at Millwall last week, with Gallagher having done the job when defender Clarke was on the bench in recent games.

Who he has as captain is something Neil gives plenty of thought to.

Said Neil: “In general, I don’t think captains carry the same importance as they used to do.

“You look at John Terry, Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane, they were guys who were lauded as players at their clubs.

“I think we do have that here at Preston to a certain extent but I don’t think it is as common in football as much as it used to be.

“The other day I watched the Chelsea game.

“Azpilicueta was captain and when the goalie refused to come off, Azpilicueta was hiding behind the corner flag.”

Neil admits Pearson being absent against Bristol City and Blackburn will be a blow.

While this is a fourth ban of the season to add to those of previous years, the PNE boss is adamant he can see a change in the 24-year-old.

“I’m not going to pretend that Ben won’t be a huge loss because he will be,” said Neil.

“Ben is a unique type of player, that is why we covet him so much.

“He is a great lad, trains hard and is a talented player.

“I want to throttle him half of the time because of all the games he misses and he knows my feelings on that.

“This might sound strange as he serves a ban but he’s starting to mature as a player.

“I hope we can speed that process up a bit.”