Preston have a youthful outlook: Statistics show that North End give young players a chance

Preston are high in the list of Championship clubs who give a chance to young players.

Statistics show that PNE have given 11,735 minutes of league action this season to players aged 23 and under.

Preston North End's Ben Davies

Preston North End's Ben Davies

That is the third highest in the Championship and 19th in the Football League as a whole.

North End have tended to shop at the younger end of the market in recent seasons.

They have also developed players through the academy, with teenagers Ethan Walker and Adam O’Reilly both given debuts against Aston Villa in December.

Walker, at 16, became the youngest player to turn out for Preston in a league game.

Lilywhites boss Alex Neil says the progress made by the club’s younger players is there to see and it bodes well for the future in his eyes.

Neil said: “There is that old saying in football that you can’t win anything with kids.

“I don’t really agree with that but what I do think is that if you put too many in at the same time, it can prove to be more difficult to win.

“Our younger players can only get better and they are learning their trade.

“The improvement of most of them in the last year-and-a-half has been significant.

“Callum Robinson went from being a neat and tidy good player to a guy who will score you 15 goals a season and put 10 assists in.

“Alan Browne will get you 10-15 goals, whereas before he was alright, would run around and pass the ball here and there.

“You look at Ben Davies, he has turned into a first-class centre-back – Jordan Storey will be the same.

“I’ve said numerous times that Ben Pearson is the best ‘six’ in the league for me.

“Sean Maguire is back and when we get fully firing he will be a real force for us.”

In the Championship, Swansea lead the way in time on the pitch for youngsters, giving them 16,087 minutes.

Brentford have played their younger players for a total of 12,486 minutes, then come North End in the list.

Of the 72 league clubs, it is League Two Yeovil who top the charts – 18,565 minutes given to players under the age of 23.

At the other end of the scale, Bolton – opponents for North End today – have lent on younger players for a total of just 1,954 minutes.

Stoke are just above them having fielded younger legs for 2,392 minutes this term.

PNE might slip a little in this list as the season goes on.

Robinson and Pearson have both turned 24 recently, with Browne catching them up in April.

However, of the first-team regulars Davies doesn’t turn 24 until August and Storey is only 21.

Of the recent substitutes, Josh Earl is 20, Ryan Ledson 21 and Lukas Nmecha 20.