Preston North End boss Ryan Lowe sends clear message to young players

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe has sent a clear message to the young players in his squad currently with the first team.

By Tom Sandells
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 12:30 pm

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PNE played their first pre-season game of the summer on Saturday and there was a youthful look to their sides, as they named two different XIs in each half. They won 3-0 thanks to goals from Ben Whiteman, Ben Woodburn and Mikey O’Neill.

Lowe has a growing contingent of academy products nearing or in the first-team squad.

Preston North End's Mikey O'Neill.

At the weekend, O’Neill, who broke into the first-team picture last season, was joined by Noah Mawene, Lewis Coulton, Josh Seary and Aaron Bennett – with James Pradic the substitute for both halves.

The North End boss made the decision last season to split up the young players and first team, due to his bloated squad, and if they are to remain in the senior training group, the message is clear from Lowe.

He said: “In the first half I wasn't quite happy with Mikey and Lewis. Mikey probably came on a bit unexpectedly when Sean Maguire went off and he's got to be ready to be called upon.

"If that is a Championship game he has got to be ready. He can't have a 30 minutes like he did and I've told him that. I told him at half time and in the second half he went out and performed like Mikey O'Neill can perform because he is a good player.

PNE manager Ryan Lowe at Bamber Bridge.

"Lewis Coulton I thought was fantastic, alongside Aaron Bennett, Noah Mawene and Josh Seary. They all have different qualities and they're with us, I've said to the group don't take this for granted because we are going to have more bodies back."

North End strengthened their squad further on Monday with the double signings of midfielder Ben Woodburn, following the expiry of his contract at Liverpool, and Republic of Ireland ace Robbie Brady.

And that will further increase competition for places, as Lowe expects his youngsters to respond.

He said: "They've got to be the best they can be in games and in training to see if they will stay up with us.”