Alex Neil felt Lukas Nmecha put in his best performance in a Preston shirt in Tuesday night’s thriller at Aston Villa.
The on-loan striker started his first game since the defeat at Derby on August 25.
He had come off the bench three times since then but a knee injury and a lack of form saw him absent from the squad for three games.
PNE boss Neil recalled him at Villa Park and the teenager responded with a display full of energy and purpose.
Nmecha hit the post with a shot in the second half as PNE swarmed all over their hosts.
He won the penalty which led to North End’s first goal, James Chester red carded for the challenge.
Neil said: “It was without doubt his best display for us.
“Lukas has been wanting to play and to be involved but in my eyes he hadn’t done enough up to this point.
“We gave him his chance and I thought he was excellent.
“His movement was good, he was powerful, he played with intent and looked to me like he wanted to prove a point, whereas I felt in some of his previous games he just looked happy to be here.
“We wanted more than that.
“Lukas is a quality player when he’s on it, he’s capable of doing everything.
“He can run a channel, he can take the ball in, sink off and get himself on the turn.
“When you have those tools at your disposal, centre-backs don’t know how to handle it.”
Nmecha, 19, joined North End from Manchester City on a season’s loan in August.
Villa were one of the clubs who PNE beat to his signature, the Midlands outfit in the race for him right until he put pen to paper at Deepdale.
He started the first four league games of the campaign before picking up an injury in the League Cup win at Leeds after coming on as a sub.
Brandon Barker, who like Nmecha is on loan from City, missed the trip to Villa Park because of illness.