PNE striker Stephy forced to play waiting game

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Alex Neil admits it is difficult to find a starting place in the Preston front-line for Stephy Mavididi at the moment due to the strong competition.

The teenager, who is on a season’s loan from Arsenal, scored twice for the England Under-20s in a 4-0 win over Czech Republic at St George’s Park on Tuesday.

Stephy Mavididi in action for Preston against Reading earlier this season

Stephy Mavididi in action for Preston against Reading earlier this season

He has started two games for PNE and come off the bench four times but others are currently ahead of him in the pecking order.

North End boss Neil told the Post: “He is a talented boy, no doubt about that.

“It is trying to utilise that and get the best out of him.

“Probably the frustrating and disappointing thing for Stephy, Callum Robinson and Daryl Horgan is that Sean Maguire, Josh Harrop and Tom Barkhuizen have been in good form for the majority of games.

“We have lost one game in 11 and if you are one of the guys on the sidelines, even though you are frustrated, I think they understand why they aren’t playing.

“It is not really due to them not playing well enough, it is because the guy in their place has been doing really well.

“We have good options up there.”

North End’s internationals were back at the club on Wednesday to start the build-up to the visit to Fulham this weekend.

Neil was pleased to see Maguire make his Republic of Ireland debut, while Chris Maxwell was in the Wales squad for the first time.

“It was a great experience for them, as a player you want to be involved in games which really matter,” said Neil.

“I’m sure they will have benefited from it, come back to us a bit wiser and knowing what it takes to play at the level of football.

“They’ll know what is it like being around the squad and training with the squad.

“It’s a great sign for us in how well we have started the season – it is being recognised and the lads can be happy about that.”