PNE ready to give youth a fling

Josh Brownhill has played a starring role for PNE
Josh Brownhill has played a starring role for PNE
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Simon Grayson says he could pair young guns Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill together in the middle of Preston North End’s midfield for tomorrow’s crunch clash with Brentford at Griffin Park.

The duo have made their mark at Deepdale during this campaign after being handed their debuts by the PNE boss.

Brownhill, 18, has made more of an impression, having featured in nearly 30 games since making his first appearance as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat against Oldham Athletic in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in October.

However, Irish starlet Browne, 19, has forced his way into Grayson’s thinking over the last few weeks and was handed his full league debut at the weekend against Carlisle.

The youngster scored the second goal and played a starring role as Preston routed the Cumbrians 6-1 at Deepdale.

Grayson said: “I think you’re never too young if you’re good enough.

“Anybody who has looked at them this season will know that they both have lots of good qualities.

“They can the handle the ball and have got legs to get around the pitch.

“People can talk about the inexperience of playing two teenagers but sometimes that youthful exuberance and that no-fear attitude can take you a long way.

“I’ve got no problem if I decide to go that way.

“But there are one or two players in the team right now who are playing well 

Grayson singled out Browne for special praise as he reflected on his first start for the club. The PNE boss said: “Alan did nothing wrong. He only enhanced his chances of playing in the first team again with his performance on Saturday.

“Obviously, John Welsh is still suspended for tomorrow but it was a toss of a coin to a certain degree between him and Josh as to who played last weekend.

“Alan took his opportunity. You have seen his enthusiasm and his know-how for such a young lad.

“He has calmness on the ball and he rounded it all off with a goal.

“I’m delighted for him but he knows he’s still got to keep working hard because there are a lot of high level players here.”

The Browne/Brownhill conundrum will not be the only thing playing on Grayson’s mind as he looks to select a side capable of upsetting the second-placed Bees tomorrow – and re-igniting North End’s own dreams of clinching automatic promotion.

Grayson must decide whether to reinstate Bailey Wright to the starting XI after the Aussie missed last weekend’s game to protect him from picking up a two-match ban.

Leading scorer Joe Garner – who was not in the squad last weekend because he attended the birth of his daughter – 
will also come into his thoughts.

“Joe’s missus has had the baby, which is good for them,”Grayson said.

“I’ve got to pick a team which is capable of giving a performance against Brentford.”