Preston’s Irish midfielder Alan Browne believes he is playing the best football of his career, thanks to a huge injection of confidence from Alex Neil.
Browne has been one of the stand-out players in PNE’s push for the play-offs and scored his sixth goal of the season in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Bristol City.
The goal was a 25-yard chip over Robins goalkeeper Frank Fielding, who got stranded on the edge of the penalty area in a defensive mix-up.
Asked if this was the best spell of his career to date, Browne said: “I would say so.
“The gaffer is getting the best out of me, he has really given me the confidence when I get into attacking areas.
“He has encouraged me to take people on and shoot – that is something I needed to add to my game. What the gaffer has done is put the belief in me to do it, I’m just trying to pay back the faith by doing my best.
“For a player, confidence is a massive factor in your game. The gaffer puts confidence not just in me but all the boys.
“You can see that with our performances, we really do believe in what we are doing.”
Browne displayed bags of confidence when giving North End the lead in midweek.
Although closer in than his 45-yard effort against Cardiff earlier in the season, there were similarities in the goals.
The 22-year-old said: “They were similar in that two really poor clearances fell perfectly to me.
“The one against Cardiff I tried to get distance on and keep on target.
“On Tuesday night I had to clip it more, it was more about accuracy than anything else.
“To get the goal was just a fantastic feeling.”
Browne’s first-half goal was cancelled out by an equaliser from Famara Diedhiou. But parity lasted only two minutes as Sean Maguire ran clear to fire PNE’s winner.
Browne is delighted to see fellow ex-Cork player Maguire back in action.
“With Sean you can give him the ball to feet, he can hold it up or he can go behind with his pace,” said Browne.
“His finishing is second to none, he’s a fantastic player and one we have missed.
“What you have seen from Sean in the last couple of games, we see every day in training.
“Earlier in the season, he was playing more on the wing because we had Jordan Hugill.
“He did fantastically well out there but I don’t think we were getting the absolute best out of him.
“Sean is a more natural No.9, that is his best position.
“I think he has come back at the right time and has so far had a massive impact.
“Teams will fear him and rightly so because his pace is unbelievable and he is a top finisher.”